The Philippines — The rampant forest fires damaging agro and reforestation plantations and watersheds in Itogon prompted local officials to pass a measure penalizing those who cause fires and damages to forests.
The measure refers particularly to agro and reforestation plantations within the town particularly the Community Based Forest Management Areas (CBFMA), those covered by the Itogon Integrated Watershed Management Project (IIWMP), forest zones, protected areas and watershed areas.
It also considers the promotion and protection of the biodiversity of the areas covered.
The purpose of the ordinance is to pre-empt and defer people from acts of recklessness, negligence and apathy to the detriment of the environment and prejudice to the well-being of the people.
Slash and burning of grasses, dry leaves, twigs and trees to clear and clean up rice fields and farm areas are not also allowed.
Itogon Ordinance No. 22 was referred to the Provincial Board Committee on Peace and Order and Public Safety for comments and recommendations.
The report submitted by the committee chaired by Board Member Nardo Cayat finds the ordinance as one among the many ways of protecting the environment based on Section 447 of the Local Government Code. But the penalty provision on the production of seedlings and replanting cost is not prescribed in the LGC, commented the Provincial Legal Office.
The committee report also finds it proper the requirement of posting and publication of ordinances with penal provisions at prominent places.
The ordinance penalizes all persons who cause fire and damages to forest zones, protected areas, watershed areas, agro and refo plantations within the municipality.