Ricardo Calderon, regional executive director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said they have “always been in control of the illegal logging situation” in the area, filing 135 cases against illegal loggers in the region, with 12 this year. Five of the cases were filed in Davao Oriental, he said.
He announced the deployment of more DENR personnel in key points as a key deterrent to the illegal operations and has beefed up personnel in Cateel, Davao Oriental and in Compostela Valley province, where there were recent reports of illegal logging
He said the move was intended to protect a growing wood industry in Cateel and neighboring towns. He denied that thousands of hectares of forest lands under Integrated Forest Management Agreements were abused and used as front for illegal logging activities. "IFMA (areas) are properly regulated and documented. There is no basis on that accusation," he said.
Though he also said the DENR would not condone illegal acts committed by their personnel, he admitted that nobody has been suspended so far despite reported involvement of some DENR men.
Earlier this year, non-government organizations in the area reported rampant illegal logging operations reportedly involving some politicians and DENR officials themselves.
Calderon said they have set up a multi-sectoral provincial level task force to lead in monitoring movement of forest products in the area.
In September, church and community groups in Cateel town in Davao Oriental wrote a letter to Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes to ban logging in Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces, citing unchecked activities of illegal loggers, including the abuse of reforestation projects.