LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines—For the next 15 years, the provincial government will allocate P1 million a year for the protection and rehabilitation of Mount Banahaw.
Board Member Rachel Ubana, chair of the committee on environment and natural resources, said the funding support was sought by Dr. Cecilia Gascon, president of the Southern Luzon State University (SLSU) based in Lucban, and Claro Talaga, a former provincial board member.
The automatic budget allocation until 2026 was approved by the provincial board on July 18.
SLSU has agreed with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to serve as steward of 1,660 hectares of Banahaw.
Last year, Typhoon “Basyang” brought continuous heavy rains that triggered a 5-kilometer landslide near the mountain apex about 1,800 meters above sea level.
The landslide uprooted natural growth trees and sent huge boulders tumbling down with forest soil toward Barangays Palola, Tinamnam and Manasa.
According to Dondi Sarmiento, chief of the Mines and Geoscience Bureau’s mining and environment safety division, landslides are potential threat to the safety of low-lying communities.
Sarmiento urged all concerned government agencies, local government units around Banahaw and the private sector to immediately undertake safety measures to avert any looming catastrophe.
Sally Pangan, park superintendent for Banahaw, said the provincial fund would be used to prevent further soil erosion and landslides, and stabilize slopes through geo-textile mesh matting by laying down coconut coir mats.
“The site is also undergoing massive reforestation to bring back its former green grandeur,” Pangan said.
Gov. David Suarez has launched a reforestation project, dubbed “Plant and Grow One Million Trees Securing Quezon’s Future,” in Banahaw last year.
Although it was established that the landslide was not manmade, Pangan still called on villagers along the slopes and adjacent Mount San Cristobal to stop slash-and-burn farming and instead plant hardwood and fruit-bearing trees at the peripheral areas of their lots.
She appealed to the provincial government to also provide funds to rehabilitate other landslide-prone areas at the slopes, particularly near quarry sites in Sariaya town at the other side of Banahaw.
Banahaw and San Cristobal have both been declared protected areas under Republic Act No. 9847. The law was signed by then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Dec. 11, 2009.