DENR fast-tracks rehab of typhoon-ravaged areas in Siargao

BUTUAN CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here has ordered its field officers and disaster teams to double their efforts in rebuilding typhoon-damaged areas in coordination with the local government units (LGUs).

DENR Secretary Jim O. Sampulna issued the directive as local officials have started opening tourism sites, especially in Siargao Island, a world-famous surfing site.

“We must redouble our efforts now in helping rebuild the calamity areas,” Sampulna said.

Surigao del Norte Gov. Francisco T. Matugas announced the opening of tourism sites in Surigao del Norte, particularly in Siargao island even as the rehabilitation of tourism facilities are ongoing to serve the needs of tourists, both foreign and domestic.

The agency has been intensifying its efforts to help in the reconstruction of damaged infrastructures in the two provinces of Surigao del Norte, including Surigao City, and Dinagat Islands which were severely-hit by Typhoon Odette in December last year.

General Luna in Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte on Dec. 22 after it was devastated by typhoon "Odette" (Albert Lozada/Greenpeace)

Aside from the relief operations, the regional office of the DENR donated 27,716.11 board feet of lumber of which 13,716.11 bd. ft. were donated to Surigao City and 14,000.00 bd. ft were given to the Province of Dinagat Islands (PDI).

The DENR has committed to donate at least 90,000.00 bd. ft. of lumber to the two provinces out of the region’s confiscated forest products.

“We have already tied-up with the legitimate wood processing plants in the region and milling is ongoing to help us mill the logs into desired sizes for use in the reconstruction of the ruined houses and infrastructures,” DENR 13 Regional Executive Director (RED) Nonito M. Tamayo said.

The agency also provided 11 confiscated chainsaws to the affected local government units — six to PDI, two to Surigao del Norte, and three to Siargao Islands.

“The chainsaw will help the LGUs in clearing the felled/uprooted trees that are blocking the road networks. It will also help them slice the logs derived from those trees,” Tamayo said.

“We have also tapped the Forest Products Resources and Development Institute of the Department of Science and technology (FPRDI-DOST) for the repair of the four wood mizers that we have and once these are operational, we can lend these to the affected provinces to facilitate the milling of the logs out of the felled/uprooted trees,” he added.

All these, he said, are in accordance with the directive of the DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations and Environment Atty. Juan Miguel T. Cuna which specified the guidelines for the agency’s response to the Presidential Directive No. 2021-076 dated December 22, 2021 prescribing for the “Immediate Resolution of Typhoon-related concerns in Surigao del Norte and PDI.”

Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officers (PENROs) are authorized to issue recovery and transport permit for the naturally growing trees while the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers (CENROs) shall issue permits for planted trees within private or titled lands for the uprooted/felled trees for use in the reconstruction efforts.

DENR Caraga has recommended the relocation of families living within the easement areas of the shorelines of Siargao Islands following the onslaught of Typhoon Odette which ravaged the islands, severely affecting the communities and the infrastructures in the area.

Tamayo deployed a team to conduct the assessment and identification of possible areas for possible relocation of the communities to safer area as part of the strategies to lessen the impact on the residents and their properties whenever storms/typhoons such as Odette strike.

Sampulna also instructed the Protected Area Superintendent to continue the identification of areas suitable for relocation of displaced residents without damaging the biodiversity since Siargao is a protected area.

Tamayo has been designated to spearhead the rehabilitation efforts in Siargao Island.