Church group to DENR: act on BFI’s violations

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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/14 February) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should act on the alleged violations committed by the Bukidnon Forests Inc. (BFI) and its contractor in extracting pine tree resins instead of suggest ways on what should be done to legalize future extractions, an official of a Church-based environment group said Wednesday.

Belino Epie, of the Diocese of Malaybalay’s Diocesan Ecology Desk told the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) should pursue the case against BFI and Luda Chemicals Inc. (LCI) based on existing laws.

Epie was reacting during the deliberation on the seizure of 500 sacks of resin from LCI last Jan. 30 in Barangay Can-ayan here. He said the discussion was veering away from the possible legal action that could be taken against BFI.

BFI, holder of a 38,000-hectare Integrated Forest Management Agreement which expires in 2016, is being run by the Natural Resources Development Corporation (NRDC), the investment arm of the DENR.

Epie, a former official at the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, said the deliberation was meant to decide on what to do with the seized items, which he said were illegally collected for lack of permit.

“I think that’s the most important issue at hand… and also what actions to be taken against BFI,” he stressed.

Vergilino Alima, DENR Malaybalay chief, told MindaNews there were clear violations, but it would be up to the DENR regional office to determine prima facie evidence as their role is only recommendatory.

Alima asked BFI to take custody of the stocks subject to the review of the regional office. He explained that BFI, being an IFMA holder, has responsibility over the stocks which were entrusted to Datu Sagubay, a tribal leader in Can-ayan.

“What we have discussed is a future action. What do you intend to do about the present problem? They admitted they have no permit” Epie said.

He later said the DENR should confiscate the resins and LCI should stop the extraction.

Reynaldo Abordo, BFI general manager maintained their transaction was “aboveboard” and they violated no law. He said the extraction was based on the go signal of the DENR central office and a BFI board resolution.

But he admitted they had no permit and the extraction was not in their 2008-2012 operations plan.

DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr. is the president of BFI. The DENR secretary chairs the BFI board.

Epie said that despite the DENR’s go signal and the BFI board resolution the extraction still needed a permit and inclusion in BFI’s operations plan.

“We will contest any adverse recommendations,” Abordo said towards the end of the deliberation.

He said he resented to their action being called a crime and stressed he did not admit to it.

“My only mistake is to assume that tapping the resins of the pine trees we intend to cut does not need obtaining a permit,” he said.

Abordo said DENR did not require BFI to get a permit when the latter confronted them about the tapping of resins.

Epie said BFI should have complied because as a partner of the DENR it should have “acted as a model.”

He added that aside from having no permit, they also committed violations in the way they tapped the resins. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)

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