Jail the illegal loggers

PRESIDENT Noynoy Aquino recently made public his intention to impose a total log ban throughout the country to prevent the repetition of deadly floods and landslides.

The intention of Noynoy  is good but first, the President must find ways on how to jail the powerful politicians and their cohorts who cause the floods and the landslides.

Noynoy for sure has friends in both chambers of Congress he being a former congressman and senator. Can he antagonize the lawmakers who are themselves the protectors if not operators of illegal logging?

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the most recent death toll from landslides and floods had already reached 42 people, not counting the livestock deaths and damage to crop and property.

Hundreds and hundreds more had died owing to similar catastrophes traceable to our denuded forests because of the penchant of the rich and powerful to amass more wealth at the expense of the poor.

Aside from illegal logging, the insatiable rich and powerful, in connivance with government agencies, have become landowners of forest lands that have been converted into housing projects and industrial sites in violation of zoning laws.

Noy said “there must be a long-term intervention to all this flooding (so) I’m thinking of a total log ban everywhere in the country.”

That’s fine with us, sir, but there is no more time for thinking. All the laws are there and the only thing a good government must do is to implement the laws against illegal logging. Now na!

The President’s government is young; it’s only about half a year old but this problem is deforestation and denudation has been with us since time immemorial.

The President, in fact, should have included the problem of illegal logging in his first state of the nation address but he omitted it for what reason nobody knows.

He knew what the problem was and he knows it will recur and recur unless his government acts quick and decisively.

It is about time for quick thinking but even his secretary of natural resources and environment does not seem to be in a hurry to solve the problem.

To show Noy’s concern for the victims of flooding, but said earlier he was considering a total log ban only in the provinces that were intentionally logged by unscrupulous people whom he did not identify.

Why couldn’t he identify them? All the resources and the leg works to pinpoint the perpetrators were in his disposal when he was a congressman and a senator.

Now that he is President, with an able-bodied environment secretary in the person of Ramon Paje in tow, he can easily jail the illegal loggers. What’s keeping him so long?

Well, Paje recommended an executive order that would also close forest areas that do not have a sustainable supply of lumber.

In 2004, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also declared a total log ban in Quezon in the aftermath of typhoons Unding and Violeta but the ban was lifted in four months.

Ask your favorite Quezon province governor or congressman or senator about this. He may probably have some ideas on how illegal logging works.

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