Duterte orders total log ban

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President Rodrigo Duterte has formed a committee that will study the implementation of a total log ban in the country.

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“The President has ordered that a tripartite convergence committee be formed, composed of DENR [Department of Environment and Natural Resources], DA [Department of Agriculture], and DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] to discuss details of a total log ban in order to protect our watersheds,” Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Duterte issued the directive during the Climate Change Commission and Advisory Board en banc meeting in Malacanang on Tuesday night.

In a Facebook post, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Duterte ordered the DENR “to implement the ban on logging in the country without any exemptions.”

Piñol said he discussed the massive flooding in Mindanao caused by “denuded mountains and heavily-silted rivers” during the meeting.

“Hindi ba total log ban na tayo [Aren’t we under a total log ban]? Stop all logging operations with no exemptions,” Piñol quoted Duterte as having told Environment Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez.

According to Piñol, Duterte gave Lopez “full authority to implement the total log ban.”

“It [committee]was formed to formulate the guidelines in the implementation of a tougher government action against illegal logging,” Piñol said.

The tripartite committee will meet on February 6 to formulate the guidelines on the total logging ban.

In 2011, then President Benigno Aquino 3rd signed Executive Order No. 23 which implemented an indefinite nationwide logging ban in natural or residual forests throughout the country.

The DENR defines natural or residual forests as “forests composed of indigenous trees that were not planted by man.”

The EO, however, does not provide for a total log ban since it allowed logging companies with unexpired licenses to continue logging. It also allowed logging in plantation forests. CATHERINE S. VALENTE

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