Green group urges Aquino to cancel Enrile’s logging permits
GREEN groups challenged the Aquino administration to walk its talk by
cancelling the logging permits awarded to Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile’s logging
company which is destroying the natural forests of Samar.
Environmental activists Kalikasan PNE made the call after Aquino issued
Executive Order No. 23 ‘Declaring a Moratorium on the Cutting and Harvesting of
Timber in the National and Residual Forests and Creating the Anti-Illegal
Logging Task Force’ to enforce the log ban.
Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of Kalikasan PNE, said “we welcome
Executive Order (EO) No. 23 by President Aquino which we hope, if genuinely
implemented, will stop large commercial logging operations and slow down
deforestation in the country.”
“The EO 23 clearly stated that no logging operation and tree cutting will be
allowed in natural and residual forests. Given this, we expect the government to
cancel the permits and stop the operation of big time loggers in the natural and
residual forests of Sierra Madre Mountain range, Mt. Hilong hilong, Mt
Kintanglad and others,” Mr. Bautista explained.
According to the Forest Management Bureau (FMB), in 2008, 1.4 Million hectares
of our forests are under different logging concessions like Timber Licensing
Agreement (TLA) and Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA). The
Philippines has only 7.2 Million hectares of remaining forest as of 2003.
“However, EO 23 does not address the other major factor in deforestation which
is corruption inside the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
and local government units which are responsible in the processing and approval
of logging operations in our forests. Moreover, EO 23 still allows logging in
‘plantation forests’ or areas where trees were planted by commercial loggers.
These can be used and exploited by commercial loggers to continue their tree
“Even though the government allows legal logging in plantation forests, this
should not exceed 8% of the existing areas covered by logging permits.
Furthermore, logging companies have failed to reforest and rehabilitate our
forests in the past decades thus, they should not be given privileges or permits
anymore to cut trees in our forests,” Bautista reiterated.
Based on FMB data, logging companies with IFMA, SIFMA, CBFM and other logging
permits were able to reforest only 97,741 hectares since 1976. This is
insignificant compared to the millions of hectares of natural forests that were
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.
“We also expect the cancellation of mining permits and the stoppage of some
operation of mining companies as these businesses also affect our forests.
Mining operations and permits commonly encroach natural forests in areas like
Palawan, South Cotabato, Davao del Norte, Mindoro Oriental and Samar Island.”
“Eventually, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. We will see if PNoy has
the political will to stop commercial logging of big politicians and tree
cutting of commercial mining in the country,” Bautista said.