Legarda: Upgrade Forest Protection to Avoid Mt. Apo Fire Incident

March 29, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda renewed her call for stronger conservation and security measures on protected areas in the country following the fire incident in Mt. Apo.

According to reports, more than 100 hectares of forest cover in Mt. Apo have been affected by the fire that was believed to have started last Saturday. The cause of the fire is still unknown.

“It is unfortunate that we have already lost several hectares of forest cover in Mt. Apo due to this fire. It is unfortunate that even our protected areas are not safe from such tragic events. Two years ago, a forest fire that was believed to be man-made transpired at the top of Mt. Banahaw, affecting at least 50 hectares of forest land. We need to strengthen conservation measures in our protected areas so we prevent such disasters,” said Legarda.

The Senator urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and local government units to assign additional forest rangers to monitor visitors especially during the influx of tourists and called for stricter implementation of existing laws such as the Republic Act No. 9237 or the Mount Apo Protected Area Act of 2003.

A staunch environmentalist, Legarda also urged the public to be morally responsible for their actions, especially those trekking mountains.

“Enjoying nature is a splendid experience and is good for the soul but it comes with great responsibility. I hope the forest fire in Mt. Apo was not man-made, because if it was, we must condemn and punish such irresponsible acts. As humans, we have the moral responsibility to protect our forests and undertake further efforts towards reforestation and biodiversity conservation. We must not betray our purpose as stewards of our natural resources. We must be accountable for the environmental impact of our actions,” said Legarda.

Legarda has fervently pushed for the passage of the proposed Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act (ENIPAS) to actively help areas that remain under-protected, including open seas, coastal areas, wetlands and tropical forests.

If enacted, the ENIPAS will enhance conservation efforts for unique, rare and threatened species of plants and animals and their habitat, thus ensuring the sustainable use of our natural resources and cultural diversity.

The Senate has approved the proposed ENIPAS but the counterpart measure in the House of Representatives is yet to be passed.