Hataman to probe alleged “carabao logging” in Lanao del Sur

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/22 December) — Newly-assumed OIC ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman is proceeding to Lanao del Sur Friday following claims by the provincial governor that “carabao logging” is to blame for the thousands of logs that rolled down into the Iligan coast as typhoon Sendong sent residents to their roofs – and their deaths — on December 17.

Hataman told a press conference after the turnover rites Thursday that President Aquino’s first  told him after his oath-taking on Monday, “Pare, ayusin mo at i-fix mo ang problema sa logging sa Lanao del Sur.”

He said he immediately summoned Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong to Manila and that Adiong on Wednesday informed him that what is operating in the area is “carabao logging.”

“Carabao logging” refers to small-scale logging using chainsaw to cut trees and the carabao to transport the logs.

“Pero gusto ko tingnan kung carabao logging lang yan, yung sinsasabi ni Gov Adiong. Pero ang gusto ko tingnan,  bakit ganito katindi,” (But I want to know why, if that is just carabao logging as Gov Adiong said it is, what I want to see, is why that extent),  Hataman asked, apparently referring to the estimated 6,000 logs that rolled down the mountains and rammed through the houses along its path.

Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection Neric Acosta  had earlier described it as a “carpet of logs and debris lining the Iligan coast.”

All licenses are deemed canceled, Hataman said, adding he will also  look into the historical operation of logging in the area.

All licenses are deemed canceled, he said.

He said three companies were operating in the region since the ARMM was set up in 1990. He declined to name the companies but said three companies operated there.

“Baka nakikita natin ang maliit pero hindi natin nakikita aang malalaki” (We might be seeing only the small but not the big),  he said.

The ARMM imposed a total log ban in 2009, two years before President Aquino’s EO 23, which declared a “moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests and creating the anti-illegal logging task force.”

On January 14 this year, President Aquino, who was then visiting Albay to oversee the extent of the damage from the floods there, announced he was studying the possibility of  implementing a total log ban nationwide.

“There must be a long-term intervention to all these flooding. Actually I’m thinking of a total log ban everywhere in the country,” he said.

Two weeks later, he issued EO 23.

In the ARMM, Memo Office Order 009 issued on January 13, 2009 by then ARMM Governor Zaldy Ampatuan, declared a total log ban in the region.

On March 17, 2010, then Acting Regional Governor Ansaruddin Alonto Adiong issued Memo Office Order 43, reiterating the log ban declared by Memo 009.

Hataman said he will proceed to Lanao del Sur after his (Friday) morning meeting here for a briefing by Task Force Ranao and the brigade “kasi they are very active in illegal logging campaign.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)