BAGUIO CITY, Mar. 16 (PIA) – – Cordillera Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CRDRRMC) chairperson stressed the need to strengthen the collaboration among regional line agencies in supporting the local government units in bringing to the communities an intensified fire prevention advocacy campaign given the alarming number of forest fire incidents, in the region.

 Aside from threat to life and property, forest fires  also have adverse effect to the environment which can affect even the next generation of Cordillerans,  CRDRRMC and Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Albert Mogol, said during  an   emergency response preparedness meeting of  inter – agency task group for the reduction of fire incidents and effects of El Niño phenomenon.

 PAGASA – Baguio weather specialist Larry Esperanza had reported that weak El Niño is in effect this March and April wherein Cordillera provinces can experience dry condition, to dry spell, and with the utmost, a drought.

Mogol emphasized the need to look into the possible effects of the El Niño in the region,   and at the same time on how El Niño – related programs and services of each government agency can be translated into actions that can support the LGUs in protecting every community in the region.

The Task Group’s plan of action will be translated into memorandum of understanding that will also outline each member agency’s role in the fire prevention/reduction and El Niño mitigation campaign.

From January 1 to March 11 this year, Bureau of Fire Protection Regional Director F/SSupt. Maria Sofia Mendoza reported 165 fire incidents recorded in the region, of which 122 were classified as grass/rubbish and forest fires.

DENR – CAR Assistant  Regional Director Augusto Lagon  reported that forest fires  have  already affected 92.96 hectares of plantation forest and 704.23 hectares of natural forest (including 675.43 hectares in the province of Benguet), while cost of damage was estimated at P4.31 million.

 For the causes of fire, Lagon disclosed that the incidents were due to preparation of kaingin, burning of pasture land, incendiarism (malicious burning to destroy property), garbage burning, left – over firewood, campers/hunting fire and even accidental case of throwing lighted cigarette butts.

Mogol calls for a concerted effort for an intensified IEC (Information, Education and Communication) campaign and for the strict implementation of the existing laws, especially against person who were found liable for the forest fire incidents. (JDP/CCD-PIA CAR)

By Carlito C. Dar