Thursday Feb, 27 2020 06:06:13 PM

Protection of Sampinit rainforests by soldiers mulled

Climate Change/Environment • 15:30 PM Sat Sep 14, 2019
John M. Unson
Portions of the new highway straddling through the once hostile Sampinit Complex.

BASILAN --- Officials want soldiers deployed in abandoned Abu Sayyaf camps in Sampinit Complex in the province to help protect tropical rainforests along stretches of a new highway in the area.

Gov. Jim Salliman said Saturday he even want the Western Mindanao Command to put up an Army brigade headquarters in the Sampinit Complex in the center of Basilan province.

Salliman said they are now planning to make the timberlands and watersheds in the area converted to protected wildlife sanctuaries.

There is now a concrete overland artery --- the Basilan Transcentral Road --- that cuts through the Sampinit Complex, a common project of the provincial government and the executive department of the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The road network interconnects Barangays Tumahubong in Sumisip, Mahayahay in Maluso and Sta. Clara in Lamitan City, passing through mountain ranges where the Abu Sayyaf once ran a Taliban-style government and held no fewer than 200 captives, many of them beheaded for non-payment of ransom.

“There are still some very short stretches of that road network that remains to be concreted but generally we can say we’ve done it, a very daunting challenge that we hurdled. Thanks to the local communities, the police and the military for helping us achieve that goal,” Salliman said.

Chief Minister Ahod Ebrahim of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao assured to help accomplish the project, whose completion was temporarily mired by the transition from the ARMM to BARMM.

“We can even name this road `BARMM Highway’ as manifestation of our support to the Mindanao peace process and our recognition of BARMM as a durable solution to the Moro secessionist issue hounding Mindanao since the 1970s,” Salliman said.

He said there is a need for WestMinCom to consider setting up a military camp along a stretch of the highway in the Sampinit Complex to protect forestlands there from poachers.

He said the presence of more Army units along strategic stretches of the highway will also ensure the safety of motorists and commuters.

“Most importantly, it will deter encroachment by loggers and wildlife poachers,” he said.

From Sampinit Complex springs a number of rivers that flow downstream along farming settlements and drain in coastal areas in the province, which has two cities, Lamitan and Isabela, and 11 other towns.


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