MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 26 February) – Bukidnon provincial board member Nemesio Beltran Jr. proposed an ordinance seeking to ban extraction of pine tree resin anywhere in the province of Bukidnon.
Beltran told MindaNews Monday the proposed ordinance was referred to the board’s committee on laws for public hearing.
He said he proposed the ordinance to end the extraction of pine tree resin within the 38,000-hectare area of the Bukidnon Forest Inc.’s (BFI) Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) due to expire in 2016.
The BFI, run by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Natural Resources Development Corporation, contracted the Chinese firm Luda Chemicals, Inc. (LCI) to extract resin.
DENR-Bukidnon held about 500 sacks of resins on January 30 due to lack of permit for the extraction.
The provincial board earlier passed a resolution, proposed by Beltran, urging President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to cancel the BFI and LCI contract. They also called on the President to terminate BFI’s IFMA. They proposed, too, that BFI use its area for the national government’s National Greening Program.
Beltran said the ordinance seeks to end resin extraction activities anywhere in the province. He also proposed to penalize the violators of the ordinance with six years imprisonment or a fine of P5,000 or both, “at the discretion of the court.”
The board member cited in his proposed ordinance studies that revealed that extraction could cause high rate and scope of forest fires because the resin would “accordingly leak out to the base of the pine tree and the accumulated deposits have been proven to be combustible such that a grass burn could quickly ignite a tree and swiftly spread to other trees.”
Dr. Felix Mirasol, DENR-Bukidnon chief, said in an earlier interview that despite being asked to submit requirements for a permit to extract, BFI refused and still managed to extract and transport resins.
In his notes furnished to this reporter, Mirasol stressed their fear of being accused of being “remiss of our function” due to the continued refusal of BFI to document their oleoresin extraction.
“This happens out of courtesy to its (BFI) President who is our Undersecretary and it (BFI) being a DENR-NRDC project,” he said, referring to DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr.
Mirasol said they have tried to stop the extraction of pine tree resins because it is not part of the annual operation plan of BFI in 2012 and they have no extraction permit.
Mirasol told MindaNews last week BFI has already applied for a permit. DENR Bukidnon has started the process of checking on their requirements, the first of which is an inventory of pine trees where they tapped resin.
Reynaldo Abordo, BFI general manager, explained during an administrative deliberation on February 13 that they obtained the nod of the top leadership of the DENR with a BFI board resolution authorizing them to proceed with the agreement with LCI. But BFI vowed to apply for a permit.
Also during the deliberation, Belino Epie, of the Environmental Desk of the Diocese of Malaybalay, asked the DENR to act on what to do with the 500 sacks of pine tree resin it apprehended from LCI “and not only discuss matters about securing a permit, an act in the future.”
Epie, who was joined by San Isidro assistant parish priest Fr. Noel Suarez, who also heads the diocese’s pro-environment arm, clarified that he never wanted to dictate what the DENR should do to the resins they held on January 30.
“(I meant) that the DENR will pursue the case based on the rules and regulations,” he added in his recommendations in the deliberation, an administrative mechanism at the DENR conducted to draw recommendations about reported violations of environment laws. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)