April 1, 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) of Davao del Sur on Thursday said the fire in Mt. Apo continued to spread even after five days of firefighting.
Davao del Sur PDRRMC head Harry Camoro said they have already contained the fire in four identified areas between the Davao del Sur and Cotabato sides before dawn Thursday.
But when they conducted another aerial survey in the morning, he said they have discovered a new fire breakout near the peak that was moving again towards the forest area of Sta. Cruz town in Davao del Sur.
Good thing, Camoro said the blaze, which started at the summit last Saturday noon, was still far from the Talomo mountain range in Davao del Sur, which is the nesting and breeding site of the endangered Philippine eagles.
“Sa ngayon, malayo pa iyong apoy sa Mt. Talomo,” he noted.
Camoro said they still could not say when they would declare a fire out in Mt. Apo.
“Mahirap malaman kung kailan mawawala itong sunog sa Mt. Apo. Minsan nawawala na pero bigla naman may bagong apoy kami na makikita sa susunod na pag-inspect namin,” he noted.
“Mahirap talaga i-predict iyong behavior ng forest fire,” he added.
Camoro also said they still could not state yet the cause of the fire because their focus right now is to put out the blaze.
“Sa ngayon talaga ang focus muna namin is to put out the fire. We’ll probably conduct our investigation after we declare na fire out na,” he noted.
Aside from conducting water bucket operations and establishing fire lines, he said the Department of Agriculture (DA) will also conduct cloud seeding operations today (Friday) to help put out the fire.
In view of the fire, Camoro said he agreed to the idea to close Mt. Apo from trekkers.
“I’m a mountaineer. Pero personally ayoko na din magpa-akyat ng mga campers and trekkers sa Mt. Apo. Forever na,” he said.
“Nasasayangan kasi ako sa magandang nature na ibinigay ng Panginoon sa atin. Di kasi natin masasabi kung may mga irresponsableng tao na aakyat dito at magki-create ng di magandang effect sa bundok,” he added.
On Wednesday, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje said he wanted to close Mt. Apo to campers not just for a few years but “forever.”
Paje said he already ordered DENR Davao Region Director Joselin Marcus Fragada to discuss with concerned local executives about the plan to close the country’s highest peak to campers to prevent a repeat of the fire incident.
The DENR-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Davao del Sur has estimated that 350 hectares has been damaged in Mt. Apo, of which 20 hectares were forested and the rest were grassland areas.