February 2, 2023

The Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CRDRRMC) has convened the interagency task group on forest/wild fire prevention and mitigation on the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
Chaired by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera, the task group was created in 2019 as a pro-active measure against forest fires.
DENR-Cordillera Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Augusto Lagon, in a meeting on Feb. 4, cited the importance of looking into the learnings in 2019 so that the task group can work better, especially on intensifying its information, education, and communication campaign to get wider public support on forest/wild fire prevention/reduction, as well as in upgrading the response capability and preempting potential damage to the region’s forest cover.
Cordillera has total land area of 1,865,659 hectares of which 76 percent or 1.41 million hectares are classified as forest lands.
From 2015 to 2019, forest/wild fire affected 15,316.51 hectares or 3,063.30 hectares of forest land every year.
The biggest damages were in 2016 with 5,363.95 hectares and 2019 with 6,133.19 hectares. El Niño was experienced during those years.
 Aside from the actual forest area damage, economic damage due to forest/wild fires was estimated at P137.96 million from 2015 to 2019, in addition to the damaged flora and fauna and its ill effects to the environment, the DENR reported.
Last month, the Bureau of Fire Protection recorded four forest fires in Tuba, Atok, Kabayan and Bokod, all in Benguet.
The task force is composed of officials and representatives from the Office of Civil Defense, BFP, departments of Agriculture, Interior and Local Government, Social Welfare and Development, Education, Tourism, Health, Information and Communications Technology, Science and Technology, Commission on Higher Education, Pagasa, Professional Regulation Commission, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, National Power Corporation, Philippine Information Agency, and the local DRRMCs. – Carlito C. Dar