Illegal cutting of trees rampant at Mt. Apo watershed

Magulama also ordered village officials of Barangay Perez, site of the massive
illegal cutting of trees, to stop the issuance of permits for charcoal making.

Charcoal making has become a profitable business for most residents of
Barangay Perez after many of them were dismissed from their job as workers of
a big banana firm perating in North Cotabato.

“But these people are cutting trees in the protected area, which is prohibited under the law,” she said.

The National Integrated Protected Area System (NIPAS) Act of 2002 and the Mount Apo Protected Act of 2004 ban the cutting of trees in the watershed or protected areas. 

One of the declared areas is Sitio Sumayahon in Barangay Perez, where the biggest dam of the Metro Kidapawan Water District is located.

Barangay Perez chairman Francisco Banguis, in a radio interview, admitted they had monitored the cutting of trees in the area.  “But that was many years ago.   Many of the trees that were cut and made into charcoal came from other areas outside the watershed,” he said.

Banguis’ statement, however, was refuted by a certain Felipa Diez, also a resident of the place who said that 95 percent of the trees felled for charcoal came from Sitio Sumayahon.

Diez said she has proof that illegal cutting of trees is taking place in the area.

“Everyday, you see multicabs loaded with hundreds of sacks of charcoal coming down from the upper portion of Barangay Perez.   These sacks are sold to public markets in Kidapawan City and other areas in North Cotabato,” said Diez.

This week, Magulama said,  they would continue the administrative hearings on the issue.  At least 10 buyers of charcoal coming from Barangay Perez will be placed under investigation, she said.   

The results of their investigation will be submitted for final recommendation to the office of the Protected Area Management Board.