By Zorayda S. Tecson
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Aug. 13 (PNA) –The Regional Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (RAILTF) headed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is strengthening its efforts to curb illegal logging operations in Central Luzon.
DENR regional director Franciso Milla, Jr. said that members of the RAILTF is presently studying proposals to include the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the battalion commanders of the Philippine Army in the task force membership which seen to help boost the anti-illegal logging operations in the region.
Col. Felimon Santos, Jr. of the 703rd Infantry Brigade (IB) of the Philippine Army pushed for the inclusion of the 702nd IB and battalion commanders in the region as counterpart of the DENR in anti-illegal logging efforts.
Santos also suggested that members from the Philippine National Police (PNP) be organized into another operating unit of the RAILTF, given the differences in the duties and responsibilities between police and army operations,.
With this development, Milla said he has instructed DENR provincial offices in Tarlac, Bataan, and Nueva Ecija to immediately convene members of their respective provincial anti-illegal logging task force.
He said the anti-illegal logging operations in the region yielded at least 22,000 board feet in forest contraband worth about P1 million since January this year.
It will be recalled that members of the RAILTF headed by the DENR signed Resolution No. 2012-001 that formally organized and operationalized the RAILTF in Central Luzon.
The resolution also strengthened and expanded the membership of the task force to include citizens groups, operatives of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and Bureau of Customs (BOC), the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and representatives from the religious, media and non-government organizations (NGOs) in governments forest protection campaign and environmental conservation efforts in the region.
The Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force was created under President Benigno Aquinos Executive Order 23 designating DENR Secretary Ramon Paje as chair, and the secretaries of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of National Defense (DND), Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as members. (PNA)