LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had been installing checkpoints to prevent the hauling of construction materials and regulate the entry of visitors to sitio Pungayan, popularly known as ‘La Presa’ in Mount Kabuyao, Tuba, Benguet following an order from DENR Central Office.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Julio Lopez disclosed in Provincial Peace and Order Council meeting that the establishment of checkpoints manned by a team of forest rangers was upon instructions of the DENR Central Office to protect the forest reservation which had been swarmed by tourists and enterprising businessmen after it has been popularized by a teleserye.
Lopez said this was enforced after the DENR filed a case against 13 individuals who built semi-permanent and permanent illegal structures in La Presa in violation of the Revised Forestry Code or Presidential Decree 705.
The DENR established a main checkpoint upon entering Sto.Tomas to track construction materials that may be transported and might be used for the illegal construction of structures within the La Presa area, according to Lopez.
Another checkpoint was installed upon entering La Presa in Mount Kabuyao to control the entry of visitors. Lopez clarified that they want to protect the forest reservation, and not to overload the carrying capacity of the site especially with the expected influx of tourist this coming holidays.
As defined by the World Tourism Organization, carrying capacity means, “the maximum number of people that may visit a tourist destination at the same time, without causing destruction of the physical, economic, socio-cultural environment and an unacceptable decrease in the quality of visitors’ satisfaction”.
It was learned that despite the issuance of the Temporary Environmental Protection Order issued by the Court of Appeals in last year and the Permanent Environmental Protection Order of the Sto Tomas reservation which also covers Mt. Kabuyao issued on May 26, 2015, owners did not abide voluntary demolition of their structures even with the information campaign and notices issued to them, said Lopez. Structures were continuously being built even after the issuance of PEPO, he added.
The said orders are in compliance to the Writ of Kalikasan, a legal remedy for a right to a balanced and healthful ecology, filed earlier by petitioners against Baguio City Congressman Nicasio Aliping et al in the development of his property within the reservation area./JDP/SCA-PIA-CAR, Benguet