32 illegal loggers apprehended

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/27 July) — Local authorities apprehended 32 suspected illegal loggers in Davao Region from January to June this year, an environment official said.

Victor Billones, officer-in-charge (OIC) of the enforcement division of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XI, said some 521.90 cubic meters of illegally-cut logs with market value placed at P1.9 million were recovered.

Of the 32, most of the cases were noted in Davao del Norte at 17 cases.

But Billones clarified that this does not make Davao del Norte as a hotspot, He said the province has a strategic location for the transport illegal logs, most especially coming from neighboring Bukidnon area.

Five of the suspected illegal loggers — four in Davnor and one in Compostela Valley — have already been charged for violation of PD 389, also known as “Reforestry Reform Code of the Philippines,” as amended by PD 705.

The first semester record of DENR XI has already surpassed that of the entire 2014 with 510.32 cubic meters of logs worth P1.8 million seized from 56 apprehensions.

“We’re just a little more than half of the year, but we already surpassed the record made for the entire year in 2014,” he said.

He attributed the increase to the participation of the community in reporting suspected illegal loggers.

“We encourage the community to report to us if there are any questionable operations,” he said.

The military is also actively monitoring illegal loggers, putting up 10 checkpoints throughout the region, he added.

DENR XI also hired some 59 forest protection officers who report any illegal logging operations in their communities.

Legally-transported logs should abide with the open-cargo policy of DENR with a supporting documents, he said.

An inspection registration and clearance to cut must be secured at DENR prior to the transport to the cutting and transport of logs, provided however that these trees are only cut in areas identified as “production forest.”

President Benigno Aquino III issued executive order (EO) 23 in 2011, “declaring a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests and creating the anti-illegal logging task force.”

Under section 3 of EO 23, Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force is composed of DENR secretary or his duly authorized representative as chairman; secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government, secretary of Department of National Defense, chief of the Philippine National Police, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or their authorized representatives as members.

DENR XI has also completed 65 percent of its target for the National Greening Program (NGP) for this year. The agency is eyeing to develop 18,810 hectares this year, or equivalent 9,405,000 trees.

The areas declared by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) XI as flood prone and landslide prone based on the latest 1:10,000 scale geo-hazard map will not be replanted. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)