Philippines — BONTOC, Mt. Province, Feb. 15 (PIA) — Emphasizing that forest fire prevention is everybodys concern, members of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) sought the assistance and cooperation of all sectors in the barangays in preventing or suppressing forest fires in their communities.
During Wednesdays PPOC meeting, it was reported and observed by members of the council that mountains in the province have started experiencing forest fires.
Bureau of Fire Protection Fire Marshall Fire Chief Inspector Floyd Toyokan said that from January to February 15 this year, there were nine grass or forest fires reported which are being investigated by their office. He added that most of these forest fires were caused by kaingin debris and improper disposal of lighted cigarette butts.
Governor and PPOC chairman Leonard Mayaen said everybody should do their share in forest fire prevention and protection admitting that most forest fires are caused by human activities.
In calling for a concerted effort to prevent forest fires, Mayaen said the agencies who are tasked to lead in the forest protection drives lack personnel and equipment while the local government units where they expect support, also lack funds.
Mayaen said the forest cover and the green scenery of the mountains should be maintained as it is one of the tourist attractions of the province. Mt. Province in itself is beautiful, is a tourist attraction, mainly because of our forest cover and our green sceneries, the governor said.
He suggested to the municipal mayors to include in their next municipal budget a fund for awards to barangays with no forest fire for the whole year. He said this fire prevention incentive program is a big boost to the forest protection program at the barangay level.
In the 1990s, the provincial government came up with the No Fire Bonus Plan Program where barangays with no forest fires for the whole year were given awards through development projects. The program were funded by the provincial government and the priority development fund of then Congressman Victor Dominguez.
The No Fire Bonus Program reportedly motivated and encouraged the community people to implement forest conservation and protection measures against forest fires in their respective barangays. (JDP/ABD- PIA CAR, Mountain Province)