Issue of August 25, 2013
Mt. Province

65th Courier Anniversary Issue
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DENR to hire 315 more forest guards in region
by Dexter A. See

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera will be hiring 315 former members of the Cordillera Peoples Liberation Army to be deployed as forest guards to preserve and protect the region’s watersheds from illegal loggers and poachers.

DENR Regional Director Clarence Baguilat said the new forest guards will be hired by the agency this month to ensure the region’s remaining watersheds and forested areas will be spared from the activities of illegal loggers.

“We want to deploy more forest guards in critical watersheds in the different parts of the region so that we will be able to significantly reduce the number of illegal logging activities and help improve the regreening of the forests,” Baguilat said.

He said all six provinces in the region will be assigned forest guards once they have been hired.

Mountain Province, Abra, Apayao and Kalinga will be receiving 60 forest guards each, Benguet will be getting additional 30 forest guards while Ifugao will be receiving 24.

The DENR official said the hiring of the former CPLA members as forest guards is pursuant to the commitment of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process to provide gainful employment to them in exchange for the surrender of their firearms and for them to go back to the mainstream society and live a normal life.

Baguilat agreed with the earlier contention of Bauko Mayor Abraham Aki-lit that there is an urgent need to deploy additional forest guards to preserve and protect the undisturbed forest of the Mount Data watershed and to prevent owners of commercial vegetable farms in Benguet from invading the same and ruining the remaining forest cover in the area.

Considering that Mount Data is the headwaters of the Chico, Agno, Abra and Magat rivers, Baguilat pointed out the need to maintain the remaining undisturbed forest and expand the reforestation activities to increase forest cover.

He said the forest guards to be hired will be given specific assignments in strategic watersheds regionwide so that the primary goals and objectives of the National Greening Program for the region will be realized.

Baguilat expressed support to Akilit’s proposal to set the metes and bounds of the Mount Data Watershed to prevent owners of commercial vegetable farms in the nearby towns of Buguias and Mankayan from invading the undisturbed forest in the town.

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