Court allows 3 female inmates to join watershed tree planting

Buyog Watershed is one of the four major sources of water declaring as a forest reservation in Baguio City, Benguet. It is a large portion of the 20-hectare. Buyog is inhabited by residents from Pinget, Quirino Hill and other barangays straddled by the forest reserve.

Jail Senior Inspector April Rose Ayangwa, BJMP warden said it was the first time the court allowed an inmate to participate in the BJMP’s environment program for the National Greening Program of the agency.

Ayangwa cited in her request the agency’s desire to inculcate the value or sense of responsibility among inmates to care and preserve the environment.

“This is our very first request and I am happy that it was granted. In our next visit we will try to ask the court if we could bring five inmates,” the warden said.

She said that the activity would also give the inmate merit or points deductible from their service of sentence under the Good Conduct Time Allowance (GCTA). “Aside from making them aware of the importance of protecting the environment, this will give them points that will shorten their sentence,” Ayangwa added

For five years now, BJMP had been planting hundreds of trees in their adopted 1000 square meter area inside the watershed. “We go there every quarter to weed but during the rainy season, we go there to plant trees,” she said.

Aside from inculcating the importance to care for the environment, the activity also aims to provide a therapy to the inmates. “Going outside the prison facility and joining such activity help’s them to see life in a positive way,” Ayangwa added.

The warden said that there were many inmates who volunteered to join the activity but they selected those facing light cases like theft.

She reasoned that they have to consider the weight of the crime committed by the person and the risk. “I think that is what the court considered that is why they granted our request,” Ayangwa said.

Ruby, one of the inmates, said she was happy to help weed and plant trees in the watershed. She said that after serving her sentence she would continue to care for the environment by planting more trees.

The activity was participated in by 18 personnel of the BJMP, who weeded and planted 50 pine tree seedlings and 25 calliandra seedlings. (Dionisio Dennis Jr. / PNA).