Government to crack down on illegal loggers, miners after Luzon floods— DILG official

Angela Coloma, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 21 2020 01:01 PM

In this photo provided by the Philippine Coast Guard, houses are submerged in flooded areas in the Cagayan Valley region on Saturday. Even if there were no typhoon signals hoisted over the region, numerous factors led to the worst flooding the province has seen in decades, according to Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba. Philippine Coast Guard via AP

MANILA - The government will crack down on illegal loggers and miners in parts of Luzon recently devastated by record floods, an official of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG() said Saturday, as authorities pointed to environmental abuse as a factor in the catastrophic inundation following consecutive storms. 

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya in a public press briefing said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año has directed police to prioritize crackdowns in provinces affected by floods over the past month. 

"Si Secretary Año po ay nagbigay ng kautusan kay [Philippine National Police chief] Gen. Debold Sinas, ang pinuno ng Philippine National Police na mag-crackdown sa lahat ng uri ng illegal logging at illegal mining sa mga lugar na nasalanta ng bagyo partikular sa Cagayan, Isabela kahit na po sa Kabikulan dahil ito ang sinasabing dahilan [nung] unprecendented widespread flooding," Malaya said. 

(Secretary Año ordered PNP chief Debold Sinas to hold a crackdown in all sorts of illegal logging and illegal mining in areas affected by storms particularly in Cagayan, Isabela, and in the Bicol region because this is said to be the cause of unprecedented widespread flooding.) 

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Parts of the Bicol region experienced lahar flow from the Mayon Volcano as Super Typhoon Rolly hit Luzon, particularly in Albay, earlier this month, with some residents blaming quarrying.

Cagayan and Isabela were, meanwhile, inundated last week with widespread flooding, with water levels reaching rooftops and residents appealing for rescue via social media. Among other reasons, officials said illegal logging was a factor in the worst floods seen in the area in decades. 

DILG next year will roll out a project for local government units to encourage tree planting among their constituents, targeting the planting of 200 million trees nationwide. 

"'Yung pagpapalakas sa national tree planting natin ang goal po nito ay makapagtanim ng 200 million trees at ang target po ni Año na masimulan ito next year. Maglalabas ng memorandum circulars para hikayatin ang malawakang tree planting in support of the national greening program mula sa barangay at pinakamataaas na antas," Malaya said. 

(Our goal in strengthening national tree planting is to plant 200 million trees. Año wants this to start next year. Memorandum circulars will be released to encourage widespread tree planting campaigns in support of the national greening program from the barangays to the highest government level.)