The security cluster of the city has called on insurgent groups to spare the Bantay Bukid volunteers from harm.
“We are hoping that they (New People’s Army) will not touch them,” Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC) deputy head Angel Sumagaysay told reporters during the recent Watershed Stakeholders Summit.
“To our brothers, please do not lay hands on them because all of us drink water.”
According to a report, there are 70 Bantay Bukid volunteers in the hinterlands of the Third District, particularly in the barangays of Tawantawan (specificially Sitio Ubay-Nanap, Gading, Panigan, and Sumpitan), Gumalang, Wines, Carmen, and Tambubong in Baguio District; and in Tamugan, Marilog District. They are protecting the watershed areas for any illegal activities.
According to Sumagaysay, if there are any insurgent groups present in the hinterlands in the city, they should not harm any of the Bantay Bukid volunteers.
He said Bantay Bukid volunteers put their lives at risk because of the nature of their duty.
“They are in-charge of the monitoring. Once they can monitor illegal activities in the watershed areas, they will immediately report it to the concerned agencies and the law enforcement units like the PNP (Philippine National Police), AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippine) or the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources),” Sumagaysay said.
Sumagaysay noted the improvements of their efforts and the vigilance in monitoring the watersheds by the volunteers.
However, he admitted that the city lacks in some other needs of the volunteers.
“We will raise everything to the Office of the City Mayor but as of now, we have to maximize the resources that the government was able to provide to them,” he said.
To augment the forces of the Bantay Bukid volunteers, Sumagaysay said they will be tapping the assistance of the barangay tanods soon.
“There are city-paid barangay tanods, and one of these days, we will be able to merge them to become part of the monitoring for environmental protection. This is one of the mandates of the barangay tanods,” he said.
“There are 20 barangay tanods per barangay. They will come from the barangays of Marilog, Baguio, and Calinan. Right now, one of their subjects in their training lectures on disaster management,” he added.