Benguet watershed destroyed by illegal loggers, encroachers

>> Thursday, August 3, 2017

By Aldwin Quitasol

BOKOD, Benguet – Illegal loggers are stripping the watershed along Agno River here of trees even as the forest is being converted into agricultural farms.
Forester and Upper Agno River Watershed Area Team section chief Onofre Castro bared this to media saying there used to be 28 forest guards hired by the National Power Corp. patrolling the watershed but 20 of them were laid off.
He said they already submitted a request to the NPC to rehire the laid-off forest guards.
He added the eight remaining forest guards cannot guard the whole watershed considering it needs continuous patrolling.
The NPC is maintaining the Ambuklao and Binga Hydro-electric plants in Bokod, Benguet.
Castro appealed to government line agencies like the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bokod and Buguias town governments and stakeholders to help them protect and preserve the watershed.
“If we can’t stop these,” referring to the illegal logging and illegal conversion of forest lands into agricultural farms, “the watershed will be destroyed and the water will be gone,” he said.
According to Castro, he started working with the NPC-UARWAT since 1982 and  witnessed degradation of the watershed.

He said they filed cases before against the people caught doing illegal logging in the watershed area but lost due to technicalities.


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