2 February 2011
As flashfloods and landslides continue to affect the country, environmental activist group Kalikasan PNE demands an immediate implementation of ban on commercial logging in the country. “Fulfill your promise Mr. President. The people have suffered too much because of unabated logging and deforestation in the country. Impose ban on commercial logging now,” said Clemente G. Bautista Jr., national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE.
President Aquino announced last January 14 that he will issue by January 17 an executive order on total log ban in the country. Until now, Malacanang has still not issued the said order; explaining that the palace is still formulating the details of the log ban. The log ban proposal of PNoy has garnered support from the Catholic Church, environmental groups, and local government officials.
Commercial logging has been pinpointed as the major cause of deforestation in the country and aggravates flooding and landslide incidences. The massive floods and landslides are the result of the historical large scale loggings in the past that continue to operate until today in areas like Southern Leyte, Western Samar, Aurora, Isabela, Quezon, Davao del Norte and CARAGA provinces.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that more than two million people were affected by floods in January in 190 towns and 18 cities. There were 75 civilian deaths and 22 still missing. More than 2 billion pesos worth of properties and agricultural products were damaged.
According to the Forest Management Bureau (FMB), in 2008 a total of 1,354,124 hectares of our forests are under different logging concessions like Timber Licensing Agreement (TLA) and Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA). The Philippines has only 7,168,400 hectares of remaining forests as of 2003.
In 2008 alone, FMB reported that the forest industry exported a total of $1.332 billion worth of forest products. A total of 815,225 cubic of meters of log were cut from our forests on the same year or equivalent to almost 2,000 basketball courts filled with one meter high of lumber.
“It seems PNoy is having cold feet. We hope he was not swayed by big commercial loggers and politicians that have interests in logging. These groups oppose the stoppage of logging because they rake billions of pesos in destroying our forests. Commercial logging operation if not owned are being protected by big politicians and elected officials in the provinces,” Bautista explained.
Big political families have interests in logging operations. An example is the commercial logging permit that was given to the San Jose Timber Co, owned by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, to cut trees in the 95,770 hectares of forest lands in Samar Island until 2023.
“Implementing a log ban but at the same time exempting the current operations of big time loggers will be ineffective in saving our forests. The time for President Aquino to implement a commercial log ban is now.” Bautista reiterated. ###
Clemente Bautista Jr.
National coordinator, Kalikasan PNE