DENR-12 closes down 13 mini sawmills

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 Aug) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has closed down 13 mini sawmills or wood processing plants in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region for violation of various environmental laws and regulations.

Dr. Bighani Manipula, acting chief of DENR-12’s Ecosystems Research and Development Service, said Friday they ordered the closure of the erring sawmills due to the lack of necessary permits and licenses, among them a five-year supply contract required by the agency.

He said the DENR requires sawmill operators to submit a supply contract to ensure that the trees they utilize or process were sourced legally.

“If a sawmill has no supply contract, it means it is getting raw materials from other sources, like maybe from government reforestation areas,” Manipula said.

Of the 13 mini sawmills that were shut down earlier this week, nine were based in South Cotabato province. Seven were located in Tupi town and one each in Surallah town and in Koronadal City.

Three other sawmills were padlocked in Cotabato City and one in Sarangani province.

A report released by the DENR-12 information section identified the erring sawmills as Patwoods Processing Inc. in Surallah town; Emerald Industries in Koronadal City; and sawmills registered to operators Manolito Landicho, Robi Magalaman, Lilit Delizo, Nieves Landicho, Marlon Cunanan and Donato Rivera in Tupi town in South Cotabato.

The others were Amacon Mini-Sawmill and Lumberyard, Arcela Mini-Sawmill and Lumberyard, and Suralda Mini Sawmill, all in Cotabato City, and Phela Resources Corporation in Maitum, Sarangani town.

Adeluisa Siapno, DENR-12 regional executive director, noted that most of the erring sawmills have expired permits.

The operators of Amacon Mini-Sawmill and Lumberyard specifically failed to show proof of legal sources of the raw materials that they utilize, she said.

Siapno said the padlocked sawmills may resume their operations once they properly comply with the registration and licensing requirements, which include a supply contract or proof that they have enough legal sources of logs to sustain their operations for five years.

The DENR central office earlier ordered the closure of all wood processing plants or sawmills that have failed to submit the required supply contracts.

Such requirement was based on Item 2.5, Section 2 of Executive Order No. 23 issued in February last year by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III that declared a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests of the country.

EO 23 specifically provides that the “DENR shall close and not allow to operate all sawmills, veneer plants, and other wood processing plants who are unable to present proof of sustainable sources of legally cut logs for a period of at least five years.” (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)