Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate has raised the alarm over the consecutive fires in Benguet, noting that the government should act fast to quell the flames before it reaches the fire levels in the Amazon and Australia.
In a statement, Zarate called on the government to augment the firetrucks in the affected areas immediately. He noted that there were only three fire trucks from Tublay and La Trinidad that the Bureau of Fire Protection use to put out the fires.
The first reported fire started in Kabayan town that razed over 150 hectares of forest land from Feb. 11 to Feb. 18. Another raged in Tublay on Feb. 19, followed by two fires both in Baguio on Feb. 20 and 21, and a grass fire in Sitio Cawat in Barangay Beckel, La Trinidad. Reports say two more fire broke on Saturday, Feb. 22, in the province.
“We must help in preventing these fires and at the very least be ready with more firefighting equipment for firefighters before more forest lands, endemic plants species, animals and even people and their livelihood are affected and devastated,” Zarate said.
Zarate also called for the immediate provision of more and better fire fighting equipment for Benguet firefighters. According to him, the government should allocate funds to allow the Benguet and other provinces with similar geography to acquire equipment appropriate with the terrain.
Zarate also stressed that “rather than give firefighters guns, it would be better if they are given better fire fighting equipment against forest and industrial fires.”
Early this month, Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año recommended the issuance of firearms to firefighters to help in maintaining peace and order.