Calamba City, Laguna – The grass fire incident that occurred on April 5, 2020 damaged the ten (10) hectare grassland portion of the National Greening Program Plantation within the 550-hectare property of the Provincial Government of Rizal. This prompted the Quick Response Team of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) - Rizal to immediately investigate the incident amidst the lockdown.
The team suspects negligence of people engaged in upland activities, causing the 6-hour grassfire in the area. Patrolling activities are now intensified together with the local communities, led by the Barangay Officials, the LGU, local fire protection office and the forest rangers.
According to Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) of Rizal, Isidro Mercado, the communities should recognize the importance of grassland for ecosystem succession, soil erosion control and water conservation. He also mentioned that despite the lockdown, LAWIN patrollers are mobilized for fast detection and prevention of similar concerns, and the office continuously conducts public awareness campaigns thru various social media platforms.
DENR CALABARZON Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales said, “The onset of the dry season signals heightened alert for similar risk areas. Grass and forest fires may impact adjacent protected areas and the communities that live nearby, which may lead to loss of life and property”. He is also calling for stronger community and LGU cooperation to immediately address these concerns.