A multi-sectoral team of enforcers deputized by the municipal government here is now guarding all strategic points in this biodiversity-rich far-flung town to ensure that its forests and other ecological properties are sealed from illegal activities.
Town Mayor Alejandro Gamos over the week said here that he tapped the cooperation of various agencies--among them the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and Philippine Coconut Authority--in manning the multi-sectoral checkpoints set for the purpose. The Philippine National Police, Philippine Army and Philippine Coast Guard are the law enforcing agencies involved in the measure while all barangay authorities, the local media and volunteers from non-government organizations are also embedded into the undertaking, Gamos said.
All entry and exit points of illegal loggers, timber poachers, wood charcoal makers, coco lumber smugglers and wild animal hunters are now sealed with these checkpoints, making it impossible for them to further destroy the town's upland ecological resources, he added.
Coastal areas have also been placed under tight guarding against illegal fishers, mangrove cutters and any other persons involved in activities that are destructive to the local marine resources, the mayor said.
"We are doing this to protect and preserve the richness of our natural environment for the benefit of the generations next to us. Ours is a locality gifted with ecological beauty and resources that we need to take good care of. The checkpoints and coast watch function 24/7," Gamos stressed.
"Barangay residents have also been made to understand what we are doing and they, too, are staying alert against any form of illegal activities that may transpire under their noses," he added.
All members of the multi-sectoral checkpoints have specific roles in the measure and practically, every citizen of each community is supporting it that is why, Gamos said, "tiyak, wala nang lulusutan itong mga gumagawa ng labag sa batas para sa kapakanan ng kalikasan dito sa amin (surely, those lawbreakers will no longer be able to do their operations, thus, nature's interest will be protected here)."
Gilbert Gonzales, DENR regional executive director, lauded the move of the Sta. Magdalena LGU and asked his men to cooperate closely and assist the town's local officials.
Sta. Magdalena, a fourth class municipality located about 72 kilometers southeast of Sorsogon City--the provincial capital, or roughly 120 kilometers from Legazpi City, Bicol's regional government center, is generally rugged and mountainous with a peak reaching as high as 1,100 feet above sea level.
A big river coming from the hinterlands in the western boundary of the municipality flows out to the Pacific Ocean.
Its wilderness that plays home to exciting flora and fauna also boasts of beautiful waterfalls, the Ubo and Paloktok Falls.
The territorial jurisdiction of the municipality is composed of some 4,706.4 hectares of land mass.
The local government unit is politically subdivided into 14 barangays, dispersed geographically in the lowlands of poblacion composed of four barangays, and upland, with 10 barangays.
It has 13 coastal barangays lined along clean and fine white sand beaches that are considered undiscovered by the tourism world, according to Gamos.