CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/03 July) — Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Jesus Paje seemed to have “conveniently” forgotten where some of the logs seized in Butuan City last month came when he decided to relieve 31 of the agency’s officials in Regions 11 and 13 (Caraga), an environment group here said.
In an interview Monday, Carl Cesar Rebuta of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center said Paje should have included the City Environment and Natural Resources Officer (Cenro) of Gingoog City since some of the logs confiscated came from Barangay Cabantian in neighboring Magsaysay town.
Rebuta said Paje was being “selective” in booting out 31 DENR officials for dereliction of duty.
The move came after thousands of illegal logs were seized in Butuan last month by police and the city government.
Relieved over the weekend in Caraga were the Cenros of Butuan City; Tubay and Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte; Bayugan, Bunawan, Loreto, San Francisco and Talacogon in Agusan del Sur; Cantilan, Bislig, Lianga and Tandag in Surigao del Sur.
In Region 11, relieved were the Cenros of Davao City, Mati, Manay, Maco, Baganga, Lupon, Monkayo and Nabunturan.
“What’s emerging is that there’s connivance on the ground. This will not happen if it’s not tolerated by the local government unit, police and the DENR,” reports quoted Paje as saying.
The secretary added that the relieved officials will face administrative and criminal charges after the investigation.
Also relieved were the DENR executive directors Leonardo Sibbaluca of Caraga and Jim Sampulna of Region 11, technical directors for forestry Musa Saruan of Caraga and Hardinado Patnugot of Region 11;
Provincial environment and natural resources officers Belo Udarbe of Agusan del Norte, Emelyn Garong of Agusan del Sur, Domino Cabrera Jr. of Surigao del Sur, Marcia Isip of Davao del Norte, Gregorio Lagura of Davao Oriental and Julius Valdez of Compostela Valley.
“It is a good move. The story of massive logging activities in the last two decades is not new. We are repeating mistakes because we have the same people managing the office. We are just recycling same mistakes,” said Rebuta.
“Environmental justice is our agenda today. This is the escalating demand of the people across the island. The lives, properties, and sovereignty of the people that are at stake, heed their call,” he added.
Through the Roman Catholic Church in Gingoog, LRC, a member of the local coalition Kagay-an Watershed Alliance (Kawal) assisted residents in their struggle against logging operations in the city’s upland communities from 2009 to 2010. (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)