• Illegal loggers laugh all the way to the bank


    ILLEGAL logging remains unabated even as the military took over from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the lead role in the government’s anti-illegal logging operations.

    Capt. Jefferson Somero, spokesman, 1st Infantry Division (ID), disclosed on Wednesday that elements of the 35th Infantry Battalion, in coordination the local police and the DENR, have confiscated some 1,200 pieces of different dimensions of lawaan lumber during an operation at Barangay Libertad, Kolambugan, Lanao del Norte.

    Said lumber, he added, were abandoned by the owner upon detecting the arrival of government security forces.

    Illegally cut logs were also earlier discovered in Barangay Mahogany, Butuan City and in Quezon province.

    Brig. Gen. Felicito Virgilio Trinidad, 1ID acting commanding, warned the illegal loggers that there would be no let up in their campaign.

    “I again warn the illegal loggers that we will not tolerate this destruction of our natural resources, we will hunt you down and you better stop before it is too late,” he said.

    The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has blamed Illegal logging and mining as the principal causes of the destructive flash floods last year that washed out several municipalities in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental provinces
    There are at least 31 known illegal logging “hot spots” in Mindanao, which include the Caraga and Davao Regions in Northern Mindanao.

    The President had earlier issued Executive Order (EO) 23, declaring a moratorium on the cutting and har-vesting of timber in the natural and residual forests and creating the Anti-illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF).

    The AILTF is chaired by Environment Secretary Ramon Paje with the secretaries of the Department of Interior and Local Government and Department of National Defense, and the chiefs of the AFP and the Philippine National Police as members.

    But because of the presence of insurgents and armed groups employed by illegal loggers, the AILTF came out with Resolution 2012-005, converting anti-illegal logging opera-tions in Mindanao from a civilian to an active military operation.

    At least 25 personnel and agents/partners of the DENR have been killed during anti-illegal logging operations since the implementation of EO 23.

    William B. Depasupil


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