June 17, 2024

BONTOC, Mountain Province – With the occurrences of forest fires in the province, the Sangguinang Panlalawigan passed an ordinance creating the “Forest Fire Prevention Ordinance”, which provides an incentive-based mechanism to prevent or mitigate forest fires.

Ordinance 531 encourages landowners, residents, and stakeholders to implement fire prevention and mitigation measures; promotes sustainable forest management practices that reduce the risk of forest fires; and enhances community resilience and preparedness in the face of forest fire threats.

The ordinance offers cash incentives and rewards to encourage individuals, businesses, and organizations to adopt behaviors and practices that reduce the risk of forest fires.

Section 7 of the ordinance provides the incentive mechanisms – P10,000 will be given to barangays that did not incur forest fires upon validation.

The amount is on top of the P30,000 annual financial assistance to every barangay in the province.

The provincial government will be allotting a yearly amount for the incentive of any or all the 144 barangays that did not incur forest fire in their jurisdictions.

It will also recognize and award individuals, businesses, or organizations that will demonstrate exemplary efforts in forest fire prevention and mitigation through awards, certificates of appreciation, or public recognition.

The Mountain Province Environment and Natural Resources Office (MPENRO) shall lead in the implementation of the incentive program and ensure compliance with established guidelines.

The MPENRO, together with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office and the Bureau of Fire Protection, shall establish procedures for the implementation and administration of the incentives program, including application processes, eligibility criteria, and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

Under Section 6 of the ordinance, forest fire prevention measures include activities such as creating and maintaining firebreaks; conducting prescribed burns or controlled burns under approved plans; implementing fuel reduction measures, such as thinning and pruning; investing in fire-resistant building materials and infrastructure; prevention activities from January to February before the Fire Prevention Month in March and in collaboration with water delivery groups; conduct fire suppression drills along roads.

Forest fire drills are still being conceptualized by the PDRRMO. – Erwin S. Batnag