GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/18 June) — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12 is working for the processing of around 140,000 board feet (bd.ft.) of illegally-cut lumber and logs that were seized last March in Sultan Kudarat province into arm chairs and other fixtures.
Datu Tungko Saikol, DENR Region 12 director, said in a statement that they decided to donate the illegally-cut forest products to the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the region and process them for various uses.
He said the two agencies have earlier sent requests to the DENR-12 for the use of the seized logs and lumber as materials for classroom furniture and other purposes.
Section 2.7 of Executive Order (EO) No. 23 issued by President Benigno S. Aquino III in February 2011 provides that “DepEd shall be given priority in the use of all confiscated logs.”
EO 23 specifically declared a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests and the creation of the anti-illegal logging task force.
“DENR and DepEd have a standing memorandum of agreement, in which illegally-cut forest will be donated to them and utilized for public school fixtures,” Saikol earlier said in a press conference.
Muripaga Umpar, DENR Region 12’s technical director for forestry, said DepEd and DSWD will be issued with formal notification informing them t on the procedures of log and lumber donations from the agency.
By procedure, the DENR initially declares the seized forest products as forfeited to facilitate their donation to DepEd and other requesting agencies.
Saikol said the forest products that they will donate to DepEd and DSWD are part of the estimated 300,000 bd.ft. of illegally-cut lumber and logs that were recovered by government troops on March 17 following a series of operations at an illegal logging area in Barangay Kabulnan, Bagumbayan town in Sultan Kudarat.
He said the illegally-cut forest products, which were valued at P13.5 million, were found stockpiled in Sitio Salatan in Barangay Kabulnan and were believed to have been sawn from trees coming from the Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) area of the Silvicultural Industries, Inc. (SII).
SII is a private company which has an existing production-sharing agreement with the DENR under IFMA 022 and is obliged to protect the leased area, he said.
The official said the management of SII had sought the assistance of the DENR to stop the encroachment of illegal loggers in their IFMA area.
Saikol said the hauling of the forest products from the site is currently ongoing through the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Sultan Kudarat.
In a report, CENRO Sultan Kudarat head Jerry Dalauta noted that “a partial hauling” of the seized products was already accomplished by their office.
He cited that a total of 7,565 pieces of logs and lumbers equivalent to 140,277 bd.ft. (331cu.m.) have been so far hauled and are now stock piled at the base of the Army’s 601st Brigade in Barangay Kalandagan in Tacurong City.
Dalauta admitted that the hauling operations were delayed due to the limited hauling trucks and poor road condition at the site. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)