DENR Davao chief justifies cutting of trees permit inside PH Eagle nesting site

Published December 8, 2021, 2:40 PM

by Keith Bacongco

DAVAO CITY — Despite prior rejection from the city government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) -11 chief Bagani Fidel Evasco justified that his issuance of the permit to cut trees in a known nesting area of the critically-endangered Philippine Eagle in the hinterlands of Marilog District has a legal basis.

In an interview with reporters, Evasco insisted that the issuance of Private Land Timber Permit is covered by Presidential Decree 705.


“It appears that I’m the villain here, where in fact we are just following DENR existing laws,” he added. “We will not just issue a permit without legal basis.”

However, Evasco bared that he already “ordered the cancellation” of the permit.

“Ako na to gipa-stop,” he responded to reporters when asked about the status of the cutting permit.

Evasco issued the PLTP to a certain Ling-Ling Wu Lee in August this year even as the Watershed Management Council has already denied his application through a resolution issued in January 28, 2021.

He admitted that they don’t know about the “metes and bounds” of the conservation area.

Asked if the permit will be revoked, Evasco said it depends on the decision of all the stakeholders.

“Naay chances if mo-approve ang tanang stakeholders on the ground nga i-disallow nato ang maong permit. It’s up to the decision sa karon nga day, meeting nila didto sa Barangay Salaysay (There is a chance if all stakeholders would approve to disallow the permit. It’s up to the decision of the stakeholders who are meeting in Barangay Salaysay today),” Evasco said, referring to the community consultation held Tuesday.

He admitted that he has yet to get in touch with the environmental groups and other stakeholders to discuss the issue.

The issuance of the permit has sparked an outcry among environmental groups in the city as they launched an online campaign to call for the cancellation of a timber permit issued to cut down century-old trees in Mounts Makabol-Alikoson Conservation Area (MMACA), which is believed to be “an ancient nesting site” of the critically endangered Philippine eagle.

The petition calls on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Region XI to “cancel Private Land Timber Permit No. RXI-PLTP-001 2021 issued for the cutting of 121 old-growth trees within the MMACA.”

As of 10am of December 8, the online petition posted at has already gathered at least 4,300 signatures.

Jayson Ibañez, director of the Conservation and Research at the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), told Manila Bulletin that there were 12 eagles that have been hatched in the MMACA since the first eagle couple’s nest were recorded in 1986.

The PEF said the cutting area is located “within only 100 meters away” of a nest of the Philippine eagle.

Ibañez added that the indigenous peoples in the area could even attest to the presence of the nesting sites since they have been the ones watching the sites for decades already.

Environmental lawyer Mark Peñalver, executive director of the Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (IDIS), said the WMC denied the application because the PTLP falls within the environmentally critical area and is protected by the Watershed Code of the local government.

Peñalver clarified that WMC is not questioning the authority of the DENR to issue the permits.

But he explained that the local government has the authority to issue policies to protect its natural resources as provided by the Local Government Code.

Under the Watershed Code, Peñalver pointed out that the cutting of trees is prohibited inside the conservation area.

He said the local government also has the authority to regulate even the private properties, especially on the issue of cutting down trees.

IDIS, an environment group, is part of the WMC and chair of the information and education campaign committee. ( Armando Fenequito Jr.)