Press Release
September 29, 2011

Legarda Decries Desecration of Mt. Pulag National Park

Senator Loren Legarda today called for the strict implementation of the laws on the protection of the country's forests as she condemned the reported desecration of Mt. Pulag, the third highest peak in the country that is bounded by the provinces of Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.

In a report from the Department of Environment and National Resources - Cordillera Administrative Region (DENR-CAR) on the status of forest conversion at Mt. Pulag National Park, it was revealed that parts of the forest had been converted into agricultural lands and timber poachers continue to cut forest products.

In 2007, a total of 4,058.97 board feet of sawn lumber from illegally cut pine trees was confiscated. Also, last August, a total of 499.66 board feet of timber was also confiscated.

Legarda noted that some cases that were filed in court for violations of illegal occupation and cutting of trees under Presidential Decree 705 and Republic Act 7586 were dismissed due to the absence of protected area boundary markers around the forest.

"The Mt. Pulag National Park is an important watershed and recharge area of the Agno and Magat rivers. These rivers support some of the country's dams and power plants. Mt. Pulag is also home to many animal species and about 106 plant species. For these important reasons, it is vital to strengthen efforts to protect the forest," she said.

"Furthermore, the lack of boundary delineation on the ground is not a reason to illegally cut forest products," she stressed.

Legarda explained that more forest guards must be assigned to protect the Mt. Pulag National Park and they must be constantly supported by policemen and soldiers assigned in nearby communities to help scare off illegal loggers.

The massive information and education campaign by the DENR, in partnership with local government units and other government agencies, must be maintained and intensified so that communities surrounding the forest are aware of the importance of preserving the National Park.

"Coordination and convergence of the different government agencies concerned is crucial to come up with an effective forest protection plan. Ultimately, the preservation of our forest lands will be our defense against the threats of disasters and climate change," Legarda concluded.

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