DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/17 August) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Southern Mindanao has clarified that illegal logs seized in Davao del Norte in the first semester of 2015 did not come from neighboring Bukidnon province.
A MindaNews report on July 27 quoted Victor Billones, Chief of the Enforcement Division of DENR XI, as saying that 32 suspected illegal loggers were arrested in Davao Region, 17 cases of which were noted in Davao del Norte.
Billones was reported to have said this did not make Davao del Norte as a hotspot and that the province has a strategic location for the transport of illegal logs, most especially coming from neighboring Bukidnon area.
In a letter sent to MindaNews, Billones clarified that what he meant was that Davao del Norte has a high concentration of Wood Processing Plants (WPPs), and that it is a “strategic location and a convergence area from neighboring provinces or region like Davao Oriental, Agusan and Bukidnon.”
But this “cannot be construed that illegal logs are transported to a strategic location in Davao del Norte and that said illegal logs are sourced from the neighboring Bukidnon area,” he said.
“I know for a fact how strict the LGU of Bukidnon is in their implementation of the forestry laws, rules, and regulations .. but also the fact on how they have effectively managed to protect their area from illegal cutting of trees,” he said.
Of the 32 suspected illegal loggers, four from Davao del Norte and one from Compostela Valley have been charged for violation of PD 389, also known as “Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, as amended by PD 705.
DENR XI has intensified its anti-illegal logging drive in the region, along with the military which set up 10 checkpoints throughout the region. DENR XI hired 59 forest protection officers who report any illegal logging operations in their communities.
Authorities have so far recovered 521.90 cubic meters with market value placed at P1.9 million. This is higher than last year’s record of 510.32 cubic meters of logs worth P1.8 million from 56 apprehensions for the entire year of 2014.
Billones attributed the increase to participation of the community in reporting suspected illegal loggers. (MindaNews)