pldt smart turn over1Left to right: PLDT-SMART Sustainability Executives Nova Concepcion and Edmar Pasilaban; PLDT-SMART Corporate Sustainability Office and Investor Relations Head, Melissa Vergel de Dios; DENR-BMB Director Datu Tungko M. Saikol; Caves, Wetlands and other Ecosystems Division (CAWED) OIC Anson M. Tagtag and CAWED Staff Jeffrey Jaymes Mesias.

The Philippines’ telecommunication giant and digital services provider PLDT, Inc. (PLDT) and its wireless subsidiary Smart Communications, Inc. (Smart) turned- over additional equipment to strengthen the protection and enforcement activities at Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) during the ceremonial turn-over ceremony held on October 25, 2021 at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City.

Twelve (12) portable radios and 200 vests were handed-over by PLDT-Smart which will be used to strengthen the enforcement activities of Bantay Danao volunteers in Caimpugan peatland and other peatlands within the AMWS.

“Our frontliners in peatland protection, particularly the Bantay Danao volunteers need to be properly equipped to be able to respond swiftly and efficiently to enforcement concerns. Protective gears, and equipment like drone, camera and GPS as well as communication devices, are instruments essential for monitoring, surveillance and enforcement activities,” DENR-BMB Director Datu Tungko Saikol said.

“We are extremely grateful to PLDT-Smart for stepping forward to help the DENR address these needs,” he added.

The first batch of equipment were turned-over in January 2021 which include drones, mobile cellular devices, radio devices, personal protective equipment and uniforms and the #LearnSmart School-in-a-Bag kits equipped with 20 tablets, pocket Wi-Fi and a laptop. These equipment aim to help strengthen the protection and conservation of AMWS as well as the Communication, Education and Public Awareness in the area.

“If the government and private sector work together, we can achieve very much. We hope that this small contribution will help the people of Agusan, and the Agusan Peatlands, which include the Caimpugan Peatlands; and the radios will be very much helpful in enforcement and also in protecting the Bantay Danao volunteers. We hope that this is just the start of more opportunities to work together and we should be able to do much more going forward,” PLDT-SMART Corporate Sustainability Office and Investor Relations Head, Melissa Vergel de Dios said.

DENR-CARAGA Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Maritess Ocampo expressed her gratitude to PLDT-Smart with a commitment that the “DENR Caraga with the Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) and concerned Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs) will continue to ensure the protection and conservation of the peatland areas in AMWS with the help of the local communities and LGUs.”

The turn-over of additional equipment to strengthen the protection and enforcement activities at the AMWS is in-line with the DENR-PLDT three-year partnership to conserve the Caimpugan peatland and other peatlands within the AMWS, which, when conserved and kept intact, support human lives through their various ecosystem services. The 5,487-hectare Caimpugan peatland in particular, stores an estimated 48.5 million tons of carbon. Thus, by protecting Caimpugan Peatlands, million tons of carbon will be prevented from being released into the atmosphere.

The partnership which commenced in July 2020 would also help PLDT- SMART achieve its objective of becoming a carbon neutral company by 2030. #