Aquino’s total log ban policy, a major failure in DavOr

By
January 09 2013

The effect of Pablo in this province and even that of Compostela Valley — where over a thousand were killed, thousands more were injured and destroyed billions worth in agriculture and infrastructure — showed years of wanton forest denudation that was not stopped by government laws and policies.

By JOHN RIZLE L. SALIGUMBA
Davao Today

BAGANGA, Davao Oriental, Philippines — The total log ban policy ordered nearly two years ago by President Noynoy Aquino, apparently, has no teeth in this coastal town and other towns in Davao Oriental.

“Until now, there’s no total log ban here.  Illegal logging has continued, in fact.  We already reported it to the DENR, but Vice Mayor Arturo Monday who happens to be the forestry consultant of the Baganga Plywood Corporation was able to get away with it,” said Edgar Ladio, 46 and a former councilor of Mikit Village.

In February 2011, Aquino signed E.O. 23 declaring a “national moratorium on logging natural and residual forests.”

The effect of Pablo in this province and even that of Compostela Valley — where over a thousand were killed, thousands more were injured and destroyed billions worth in agriculture and infrastructure — showed years of wanton forest denudation that was not stopped by government laws and policies.

Panalipdan Southern Mindanao, an environmental advocacy group earlier slammed the wanton logging activities in the province, citing 16 Integrated Forest Management Agreements holders operating in the towns of Baganga, Cateel, Caraga and Manay, covering a total of 82,443.39 hectares.  The biggest logging permit was granted to the

Matuguina Integrated Wood Products Incorporated with an area of 27,761.39 hectares, next is the Picop Resources Incorporated with 14,466 hectares and then the La Fortuna Mahogany Incorporated with 10,873 hectares.

Ladio lamented that only a huge lauan tree was left standing in their village. Not far from his house lay a bridge across the Mikit River that was also destroyed by huge logs.

Meanwhile, in the sub-village of Palo 11, Batawan village, machines used for big logging corporations were seen by davaotoday.com.

Dandy Matilac Jabagat, a local, said that logging activities intensified when Malanyaon was elected as governor of the province.

Simula nang umupo si Cora Malanyaon, lumala na ho yung logging. Nine years na hanggang naging Gobernador siya ng Davao Oriental. Bago pa siya, yung isa niya ding kasamahan nag-lologging na din yan dito, si Nelson Dayanghirang,” he said.

He confirmed Ladio’s statements and alleged that some powerful people of Baganga are “the brains and protectors of logging activities.”

Ang kumpanyang pumutol nito ay ang Baganga Plywood Corporation, ang mga nagmamay-ari po ng mga trosong ito ay sa kautosan na rin ni Governor Cora Malanyaon at saka ni Larry Taya at ang protector ng logging dito, si Arturo Monday,” he said.

He said that Taya is Malanyaon’s adviser, adding that he owns the machineries in this sub-village.

Pagnadakip yung troso, siya yung pumuprotekta palabas patungong Baganga Plywood Corporation.  Kasi nasa DENR ho yan (Monday).  DENR dati yan, kaya nagagawa niya, pero hindi niya iniisip na malaki yung nasisira sa kinabukasan ng Kabataan,” he said, adding that, “Nakakalusot sa mga checkpoint kasi binabayaran ang mga checkpoint.  Humihingi din yung pera.  Dumadaan sa 67th Infantry Battalion pero nakakalusot din.  Kasi sinasabi ng governor na ‘hayaan nalang silang mag-logging dun kasi dun sila nabuhuhay.”

For her part, Governor Corazon Malanyaon, categorically denied the accusations that she condoned logging in the province.

In an interview by the local media, she said, logging is supposedly a “non-issue” because the devastation brought by Pablo “was not the result of mining or logging.”

“I have never gotten myself involved in logging whether legal or illegal.  As a matter of fact, on record, in Congress, I was the only congresswoman at that time who moved to defer the budget deliberations of the DENR during the time of Secretary Defensor which led him to impose a total log ban for about 10 to 15 days,” she said, adding that she lobbied to the committee on environment for a total log ban “Because I know how difficult it is to enforce the illegal logging law.

She also said that she never talked to any DENR official to help any logger or even to stop the enforcement.  “Nobody can accuse me of that,” she said.

Malanyaon also said that prior to Aquino’s EO 23, she already drafted an environment code which imposed a total log ban and was submitted to the municipal council for immediate action as an urgent measure.  “Mas nauna pa ako (kay Presidente),” she said.

“Logging predates my government service.  It’s been existing even before I was born and why should I be faulted for that?” she said.

According to Panalipdan, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared the towns of Baganga ang Cateel as the new timber capital after a landslide happened in Sierra Madre in Luzon on 2004 killing over 2,000 peasants and indigenous peoples.  It added that President Aquino continued Arroyo’s policy by “allowing big companies to continue operations in Davao Oriental until 2034.”

Dewey Clark, Baganga town’s Municipal Planning and Development Officer admitted that they have not aptly monitored logging activities in the town, only that they do give permits for “sanitation cutting”.

“We haven’t really given attention to that but there’s a task force from Manila who came here to investigate.”  

As of 2003, Mindanao has only 23 percent forest cover left, data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources showed.  However, through the years, the island has already lost two-thirds of its total forest cover.  According to the Center for Environmental Concerns, the country has only six percent forest cover left by the end of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s term.  (With a report from Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)

  • simsimi

    It’s not only baganga that has this log ban issues..the municipal officers of cateel and boston are involved too MOST especially the mayors of these towns..i hope you could dig further in this issue..gov cora cannot solely stop these monsters becauseg of fear in losing votes..

  • Concern Cateeleno

    The Mayor of Cateel Davao Oreintal is the brother of Cora Malanyaon and its business in Cateel is logging. The government should also look at the corruption in Cateel specially the Public Market.

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