THE Año-Cimatu tandem will again be tested in the fight against illegal logging and quarrying.
Both bemedalled former officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu are joining forces in implementing the crackdown against forest illegalities as ordered by President Duterte in the wake of massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela.
The two were also tasked to spearhead the daunting Boracay-Manila Bay twin rehabilitation missions with remarkable results.
According to DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya, the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force created under Executive Order 23 will meet at the DENR for new strategies to protect the remaining forest cover and at the same time protect threatened habitats across the country.
The Task Force will have the DILG, PNP and the AFP as members.
Both Año and Cimatu have agreed to mobilize all resources to stop at all cost further destruction of the country’s remaining forest resources.
Malaya said that the DILG also committed to support the National Greening Program (NGP) of the DENR which aims to rehabilitate some 1.2 million hectares of denuded forest lands by 2022.
“The DILG commits to mobilize the LGUs, the PNP, BFP and BJMP to meet the goal of the NGP to rehabilitate the unproductive, denuded, and degraded forest lands of the country by engaging local communities in the DENR’s reforestation program. We will also work with Civil Society Organizations to plant more seedlings for our forests to grow again,” he said.
He said that there is no better time than now to protect the remaining forest cover and do serious reforestation.
“I know we are still in a pandemic but this program cannot wait otherwise we are sowing the seeds of our own destruction as a planet. Climate change is here and we have to face it,” he said.
DILG records show that from January to October 2020, the PNP has conducted 6,710 anti-illegal logging operations and has arrested some 3,336 illegal loggers across the country.
It led to the recovery of 3,663,173 board feet of illegally cut lumber.
“We have filed 1,145 cases in court against the suspects. There are still many violators of our environmental laws,” he said.
The PNP, according to the DILG official, may arrest even without warrant any person who has committed or is committing in its presence the offense of illegal logging under P.D. 705.
The PNP has been directed to set up more checkpoints in all forest areas in cooperation with the PENRO and CENRO of the DENR.