Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape. // Image by CI/Jeanne Tabangay (File photo)

The management of the Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) is warning plantitos and plantitas that collecting any kind of flora from the mountain range is prohibited.

Reynato Gonzaga, protected area superintendent (PASu) of the MMPL, said Monday that they are closely monitoring activities of plant collectors because it is prohibited in the protected area.

“Alam natin na puno ng iba’t-ibang halaman ang Mt. Mantalingan kaya until now patuloy ang monitoring ng ating mga rangers sa limang munisipyo para masigurado nating walang pumapasok at kumukuha ng flora o halaman at ibenta naman ito sa labas”, said Gonzaga.

“Lalo na kapag ang mga na-collect nila ay identified na mga endangered plant species talaga,” he added.

Gonzaga said anyone who will be caught collecting Mantalingahan plants whether from Narra, Quezon, Rizal, Sofronio Española, Brooke’s Point and Bataraza can be sued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

He said they are reiterating the warning so that the public may know that Mantalingahan is a protected area and wild plant collection from any of its parts will be illegal.

“We are reminding the public that protected areas are not only for animals but also for plants.  And the law protects both plants and animals,” he added.

Mt. Mantalingahan, the highest peak in Palawan, serves as home to the indigenous peoples (IP) Pala’wan.

Conservation International (CI), an international environmental NGO, has valued the protected area’s “ecosystem services” presently providing the communities around it at US$5.5 billion.

“They also play an important role in absorbing and storing carbon — an essential component in the solution to climate change. It is a key biodiversity area, where new species are still being discovered, and recognized for this value as it is one of only 10 sites of the Alliance for Zero Extinction in the Philippines and one of 11 important bird areas in Palawan,” according to CI.