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Military strengthens support to address illegal logging activities in Eastern Mindanao

DAVAO CITY, July 26 — The military has strengthened its support to line agencies to address the illegal logging activities in Eastern Mindanao area.

Commodore Romeo Santiago Nebres, deputy commander and spokesperson of the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) said the latest activity involving the soldiers was the apprehension of more or less 1,000 Lauan logs and other varieties of wood drifted deliberately at the Liboganon River in Barangay Florida, Kapalong, Davao del Norte Tuesday.

He said members of the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force in cooperation of the members of the 10th Infantry Division, Davao del Norte Police Office, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office of Davao del Norte, and the City Environment and Natural Office confiscated the logs with approximate value of P2.4 million.

“It is part of the effort in line with the Presidential Executive Order No. 23, declaring a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural/residual forests and creating the anti–illegal logging task force,” Santiago said.

Members of the Presidential Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (PALTF) discovered the contraband Friday during an aerial survey on the forest cover in Davao Region.

Lucio Ceniza, member of the PALTF said they will seek the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Criminal Investigation Group to determine the identity of individuals behind the cutting of logs and their transport through the river so that proper charges can be filed against them in court.

He said the task force needs to investigate further the persons behind the cutting and transport of naturally grown-species like Lauan and miscellaneous variety like the Falcatta.

The confiscated logs were turned over to the local government of Tagum City, Davao del Norte which will make armchairs and tables out of the contraband for distribution to public schools.

Joselin Frageda, new director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR 11) said according to law, confiscated logs must be donated to the Department of Education (DepEd) to make chairs and tables for schoolchildren.

However, he said that hauling has become problematic given the vast confiscation done from the forest and on the road.

“That is why we would look for someone who fabricates chairs and tables like the local government of Tagum City under Mayor Rey Uy,” Frageda said.

He lauded Uy for allocating funds for the making of chairs and tables as he hoped that other local government units (LGUs) will follow Uy's example.

Frageda said under his watch, confiscated lumber must be maximized for use of the people and not just to be left to rotten or allowed to disappear.

“I will come up with a memorandum of agreement with LGUs and the Church that will ensure transparency and guarantee that confiscated logs go directly to the making of chairs and tables,” he said.

He also stressed the need to address the depletion of the forest cover in the country. (PNA) LAP/JSGD/ldp/mec

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