April 18, 2024

ITOGON, Benguet – The Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CRDRRMC) is calling for a unified, community-based, and proactive measures against the occurrence of forest fires in the region.

“Proactive prevention and mitigation efforts should be collaboratively implemented by all concerned stakeholders particularly at the grassroots level. These forest lands are very important not only for us now but also for the future generations,” Office of Civil Defense Regional Director and CDRRMC Chairperson Albert A. Mogol said. 

In a recent meeting of the CDRRMC, he emphasized local support is needed in educating and empowering communities against fires especially as incidence of forest fires has started escalating since last month.

The CRDRRMC earlier issued Memorandum 18, s. 2024, addressed to all its member-agencies and the provincial, municipal and city DRRMC to fully implement and enforce forest fire management measures.

It stated there should be proper assessment, monitoring, and inspection of all forests at risk of human-induced or natural causes of fire, and ensure application of mitigation and prevention interventions.

The CRDRRMC also called for the strict enforcement of Republic Act  9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, particularly the prohibition of the open burning of trash and the installation and establishment of fire breaks, and fire lanes, and other similar structure to avoid the rapid spread of fire.

There should also be close coordination with local counterparts of regional line agencies such as the Bureau of Fire Protection and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, with strengthened preparedness and response readiness against forest fires, such as capacity building, human resource complement response asset build-up, strategic prepositioning, interagency or inter organizational collaborations, and public participation and cooperation, and enforcement of all applicable laws and policies on forest fire management protection and preservation.

Based on the DENR forest fire incident report, there were 680.07 hectares affected including 65.35 hectares of plantation forests in various locations in the Cordillera for January alone.

Benguet recorded the most number of fire incidents with 623.73 hectares damaged, followed by Abra (49.44 hectares), and Mountain Province (6.9 hectares).   

Several forest fire incidents have also been reported this month, and assessment and investigation are still ongoing. – Redjie Melvic Cawis