DENR asks Cotabato province town to be on guard vs illegal logging activities

Published December 13, 2020, 12:20 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu has asked the local government of Magpet town in Cotabato province to remain vigilant against illegal logging activities in the area.


Cimatu said the local government of Magpet should always be on the lookout for any illegal tree-cutting activity and coordinate such with the DENR-Region 12 (Soccsksargen).
“We cannot allow people to further destroy our forests especially when we know that flooding is among its direct consequences,” the DENR chief pointed out. 
“Many Filipinos have suffered enough from the devastation of massive flooding because of forest denudation,” he added.
According to DENR-Soccsksargen Regional Executive Director Felix Alicer, a tree-cutting activity was discovered during raid conducted on Dec. 7 at Barangay Don Panaca by operatives of the DENR, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, local government of Cotabato, and Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The joint operation led to the discovery of illegal small-scale mining operation in the area located just 10 kilometers away from the Mt. Apo Natural Park.
The mining site has not been declared a “minahang bayan” or a common area where small-scale miners are allowed to operate, prompting Cimatu to order its immediate closure.
Likewise, around 300 meters away from the mining site was a five-hectare area that has been cleared of trees, such as Ulian and Agoho. Some 15.296 cubic meters of log were also seen on the site.
Alicer said the “cleared area” is suspected to be intended for land conversion, particularly as a banana plantation.
“What we are seeing here is that the threat to denudation is not so much on timber poaching but land conversion. A banana plantation has higher economic benefits,” he pointed out.
Alicer also noted that the barangay officials are not empowered to apprehend the suspects but “have helped us monitor the site which prevented the suspected planned land conversion.”
He said the logs have yet to be removed from the site, citing the difficulty of reaching the area, which can only be reached after a two-and-a-half hour-walk through rugged terrain.