DENR-ARMM axes illegal logging in Maguing LDS
Cotabato City (Dec. 20, 2016) – Around 12 truckloads of premium assorted logs amounting to at least P1.4 million were confiscated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DENR-ARMM) on Saturday, December 17.
The logs were seized from three illegally operating sawmills in three barangays of Maguing, Lanao del Sur after the DENR-ARMM discovered their illegal operation a few weeks ago.
With the help of the Moro National Liberation Front command in the area, the place was accessed safely by the Environment and Natural Resources team, headed by Regional Secretary Kahal Kedtag.
The operation was immediately launched, Sec. Kedtag said, after a series of investigations found that rampant illegal cutting of trees has been going on in the watershed area.
DENR-ARMM immediately turned over the logs to the anti-illegal logging task force group of Lanao del Sur, which later reported that the operation yielded a total of 28,730.24 board feet of premium logs ideal for high-end wood construction.
“Massive cutting of trees in the autonomous region is strictly prohibited dahil sa ating EO (Executive Order) 1,” Sec. Kedtag said referring to ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman’s first executive order on December 29, 2011, declaring a total log ban in the region.
EO 1 exempts from the ban the clearing of road rights and site preparations for plantation, hence out of the three sawmills closed, only two committed illegal logging. As for the third sawmill, “we could not yet classify this (as illegal logging), kasi as we can see, parang clearing lang ang ginagawa nila,” Sec. Kedtag said. “They are converting forest land into agricultural land but it is still prohibited since this is a watershed area,” he added.
The owners of the seized sawmills are given a two-week grace period to answer before the adjudication. If the operations are proven illegal, the seized logs will be used for government projects such as armchairs for public schools, among others.
“The watershed is not under the jurisdiction of the autonomous region, but under national supervision. However, since it’s within the area of ARMM, hindi tayo dapat magpabaya,” said Sec. Kedtag who described the deforestation in the Maguing area as “appalling”.
“Sino ba ang constituents ng Lanao, kung masisira ang kagubatan, hindi lang national, kung hindi tayo mismo ang magsasakripisyo. Responsibilidad din natin dito. Environment is everyone’s concern,” Sec. Kedtag added.
Hji. Naim Bayanton, barangay chairman of Dilimbayan, Maguing, one of the three barangays where illegal logging operations were found happening, was worried about the loss of livelihood for his constituents. He personally asked the DENR-ARMM team to provide them with alternative source of livelihood now that their barangay’s main source of income has been shut down.
“Dapat matulungan kami dahil nawalan kami ng kabuhayan,” Bayanton told Sec. Kedtag and his team. “Di kamiyo banilinsiling sa Region 10. S’kanu den i kapet r’kami a ARMM ka Bangsamoro kano,” (Don’t pass us on to Region 10, you from the ARMM should be the one to handle us because you are from the Bangsamoro), Bayanton added.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Cossain Abbas said the DENR-ARMM is eyeing a Memorandum of Agreement with DENR Region 10 on the projects for reforestation in the area and also to support the livelihood of the people of Maguing.
“We still have to do some paper works and study with the use of geographic information system bago natin malaman kung ilang hectares ang na-cover ng illegal logging, at para malaman kung anong dapat na intervention natin,” Abbas said. Maguing, he said, would be a priority.
“Magtulungan tayo, tulungan ninyo ang sarili ninyo, kami tutulong din. All out support ang ARMM sa lahat ng makakaya namin,” Abbas added.
Sec. Kedtag, on the other hand, said he will talk to officials of the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) to address the need for livelihood support of the people of Maguing.
“Kakausapin natin ang INREMP. Inalis natin ang hanapbuhay nila, dapat mapalitan natin ng legal na hanapbuhay, yun ang dapat nating bigyan ng pansin. Yun ang hanapan natin ng lunas, i-rehabilitate kung anong dapat natin i-rehabilitate,” Sec. Kedtag told Brgy. Chairman Bayanton.
The protection of Lake Lanao and its surroundings is beyond the jurisdiction of DENR-ARMM, as it is a proclaimed national watershed reserve under Proclamation No. 871 issued on February 26, 1992.
The issuance of all forms of timber permits in the watershed area was ordered to stop under Presidential Memorandum Order No. 30 of August 1992, long before the effectivity of ARMM’s EO 1 series of 2011. (Bureau of Public Information)