DIGOS CITY, Davao del Sur, March 31 (PIA)--- The Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) overseeing Mt Apo this morning passed resolutions to indefinitely close Mt. Apo from trekkers and to use the Integrated Protected Area Fund (IPAF).
Presiding over the PAMB meeting held at the Incident Command Post (ICP) in Barangay Kapatagan in Digos City, Davao del Sur, Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus Fragada of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 11 generated these moves deemed important by representatives of member agencies and local government units (LGUs) of PAMB that oversees Mt. Apo.
Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer Walter Ruezo of Makilala, North Cotabato moved for the indefinite closure of Mt. Apo to prevent it from further degrading. Mt. Apo is now on ablaze due to grassfire that reportedly started on March 26.
The grassfire was reportedly triggered by trekking malpractices but Fragada brushed aside any speculation on the cause of the fire saying the “investigation is still going on” and that he placed more importance on immediately putting out the fire.
“Don’t you think that it is more immediate to stop the fire and extinguish it?,” he said in a media interview after the PAMB meeting attended by representatives of LGUs from North Cotabato, Davao del Sur and Davao City and from national line agencies.
Meanwhile, Fragada said funds available from trekking fees and other local government income raised thru Mt. Apo tourism activities will be tapped for urgent operation use to finally douse the grassfire.
“We are in dire need of assistance for operation and secondly, for rehabilitation, “he said.
Basing on assessment of the Incident Management Team (IMT), he said around 300 hectares to 320 hectares mostly grassland areas, have been gutted and that fire volunteers are establishing the so-called “fire line” to prevent the fire from spreading all over Mt. Apo.
Fragada appealed for more assistance particularly water and food, and more fire volunteers as the grassfire is seen to last for about five days to 10 days.
He said assistance can be directly brought to the ICP set up at the Barangay Hall in Kapatagan, Digos City while donors in Davao City can drop their donations at DENR Office in Lanang. Donors in Digos City can bring their assistance to DENR Office in Digos City.
He, however, advised fire volunteers to go directly to the ICP in Brgy Kapatagan so they can be briefed before they can proceed to assist the on-going operation to extinguish the Mt Apo grassfire.
On the hand, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Regional Director Liza Mazo said OCD had requested for additional helicopter from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (PAF) to beef up forces conducting the “heli-bucket” operation manned by the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. (PIA 11/ Jeanevive Duron Abangan)