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Lumads not exempted from tree-cutting ban – DILG chief

BUTUAN CITY, June 12 – Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Jesse Robredo turned down the request of the indigenous peoples (IPs) from different towns in Agusan del Sur that the more than 3,000 pieces of seized logs owned collectively by them be returned unto them for humanitarian reasons.

The DILG chief, however, is firm on his stand that no one is exempted, even the IPs, in the implementation of Executive Order No. 23 which bans cutting of naturally grown trees.

“Please let us stop cutting forest trees. For your livelihood assistance, submit your names, contact numbers and names of your school children so that DSWD will provide each family CCT from DSWD,” Robredo told the Lumads.

The CCT or Conditional Cash Transfer is a program of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that helps alleviate the plight of the poor.

The IPs, mostly belonging to the Manobo tribes of La Paz, Talacogon and Esperanza, sought the help of former DENR Community Environment and Natural Resources officer Victoriano Vidal who is now chair of the Tribal Coalition of Mindanao to serve as head of their negotiating panel for the dialogue with the DILG chief.

The dialogue that lasted for an hour with Secretary Robredo was held at the Butuan City Hall Conference Room Monday afternoon.

Earlier, members of the Manobo Tribal Community in Agusan del Sur wrote a letter of appeal to President Benigno Aquino III and DENR Secretary Ramon Paje seeking early release of nearly 3,000 illegally cut logs that were seized along the Agusan River in Barangay Maguinda, Butuan City last June 4.

The Lumads claimed that the logs which were harvested from their ancestral lands shall be used for the enrollment and other school expenses of their children. (PNA) LAP/BS/mec

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