MANILA — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) will work together to fight illegal logging and quarrying to protect the country’s remaining forest covers and habitats.
This developed after President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the agencies to look into the root causes of record flooding in Cagayan and Isabela after the onslaught of typhoon Ulysses.
In a joint statement Saturday, Interior Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the DENR planned to meet with the National Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force made through Executive Order No. 23 series of 2011.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines were included in the task force to help DILG, the statement read.
“Alam kong may pandemya pa, pero ang programang ito ay hindi na makakapaghintay. Kung hindi tayo kikilos ngayon, ang itatanim natin ay mga buto ng paggunaw ng ating mundo. Ang climate change ay nagaganap na at kailangan natin itong harapin,” Malaya said.
(I know there is still a pandemic but this program cannot wait. If we do not act now, the seedlings we are supposed to plant will contribute to the world’s destruction. Climate change is here and we need to face it now.)
The spokesperson said Interior Secretary Eduardo Año and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu would mobilize anyone who could help to stop the illegal activities where the country’s forests bear the brunt.
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According to the statement, the DILG also vowed to support the DENR’s National Greening Program, which aims to bring back to life some 1.2 million hectares of balding forests by 2022.
“Nangangako ang DILG na pakikilusin ang mga local government units, ang kapulisan, ang Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) at Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) upang makamit ang layunin ng NGP na bigyan ng bagong buhay ang mga hindi mabunga, nakalbo at naabusong kagubatan ng bansa sa pamamagitan ng pakikiisa ng mga pamayanan sa reforestation program ng DENR,” Malaya said.
(The DILG promised that we would work with LGUs, the police, BFP, BJMP, to achieve NGP’s goal of bringing back our balding and abused forests to life by rallying behind DENR’s reforestation program.)
Earlier in the day, Police Chief General Debold Sinas ordered a manhunt against suspected illegal loggers who fired at policemen in Cagayan province, leaving one officer hurt.
The government has intensified operations against illegal logging in Cagayan province in the wake of historic flooding only two weeks ago.
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Senators earlier said that continuous land-grabbing, exploitation, and illegal logging in watersheds could have played a role in the massive flooding in Marikina and in some areas of Luzon after Ulysses.
But Malaya said that from January to October this year, the PNP has conducted 6,710 anti-illegal logging operations and caught 3,336 illegal loggers nationwide. This led to the filing of 1,145 cases in court against the suspects, he added.
Under Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, he pointed out, the police also have the power to accost anyone caught illegally logging.
The police have also been ordered to add checkpoints in the forests with the help of DENR’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), he said.