MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/07 February) – Bukidnon Gov. Alex Calingasan announced Monday he will ask the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to deputize the province’s quarantine personnel as forest rangers to better monitor and stop the passage of trucks carrying logs along the province.
Calingasan made the announcement before members of the Bukidnon Press Club during the Kaamulan 2012 briefing at Pine Hills Hotel Monday.
He did not specify the new responsibilities of the the quarantine personnel but said that since quarantine checkpoints operate even at nighttime these can be used to go against loggers.
Quarantine personnel are under the Provincial Veterinary Office.
Calingasan said he has received reports trucks full of questionable logs have been passing the province.
The governor said he felt bad about sectors who blamed Bukidnon for the floods in Northern Mindanao brought by tropical storm Sendong.
He said illegal logging only occurs in Lanao del Sur, adding the flash floods were an “act of God.”
Calingasan cited his lobby in Congress for a bill disallowing the exportation of wood products.
He said protection of the environment is one of his flagship programs.
A logging moratorium has been imposed in Bukidnon since 1990, after a series of anti-logging protest actions initiated by the people of San Fernando town. The protests culminated in a hunger strike by a handful of residents outside the office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Manila.
In late 1999, environment groups put up barricades along the highway in Bukidnon to prevent the passage of logging trucks coming from Lanao del Sur.
The protesters said allowing the logging trucks to pass through would be an insult to the logging moratorium.
The barricades, which were put up in Maramag town and in Malaybalay and Valencia City (then still a municipality) lasted for about a month, until environment and local officials gave in to the protesters’ demand not to allow the logging trucks to pass through. (Walter I. Balane with reports from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)