SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go urged the government to intensify further its crackdown against illegal logging, adding that protecting the environment could go a long way in reducing impact of natural disasters.
In an ambush interview after leading the distribution of assistance to typhoon victims in Plaridel, Bulacan, Bong Go said that the Department of the Interior and Local Government has already ordered the crackdown on illegal logging and mining, in coordination with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“Ngayon po ay meron nang order si (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año sa crackdown sa illegal logging and mining in coordination with the DENR,” Go said.
“Dapat palakasin ang kampanyang ito, alagaan natin ang kalikasan, lalo na ang kabundukan. Dapat magtanim tayo (ng kahoy) dahil ‘yun ang makakaprotekta sa atin mula sa pagbaha,” he added.
He then urged the government to fully implement and intensify its campaign against illegal activities related to logging and quarrying.
“‘Yung mga nasa baba ng bundok na munisipyo, sila ang unang kawawa kapag nakalbo po. I’m urging the government po, ‘yung nasa executive, please fully implement measures to stop illegal logging. Labanan po natin ito, tapusin po natin ito, pati itong (illegal na) quarrying,” he urged.
A nationwide crackdown on illegal logging and illegal quarrying was launched by DILG on Monday after a string of typhoons that caused massive flooding in many areas in the country. DILG also directed local government units and the Philippine National Police to reactivate their respective anti-illegal logging task forces in coordination with DENR, set up checkpoints, and arrest illegal loggers for violations of the Forestry Code of the Philippines and of Republic Act No. 9175, or the Chainsaw Act of 2002.
Aside from illegal logging, the release of water from the Magat Dam was also reported to have contributed to the floods in Cagayan and Isabela provinces. Go said that the Senate is still deciding on whether or not to investigate on the release of water from the dam.
“Trabaho po namin sa Senado ‘yan in aid of legislation. Kung kailangan mag-imbestiga, imbestigahan natin and I will participate. Kung meron talagang mali at na-explain naman ng NIA (National Irrigation Administration) kung ano po ang nangyari,” he said.
“Pero dapat well-coordinated ang pagrerelease para makapaghanda ang mga LGUs natin kung dapat ba nila i-evacuate ang mga tao. Fifteen percent daw po ng tubig ay mula sa dam at 85% ay sa ulan, pero di pwedeng maging rason ‘yun kung meron i-release. Dapat coordinated sa LGU to what extent ang pag-spread ng tubig sa munisipyo para makapag-evacuate sila,” he added.
Due to the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters, Go renewed his call for the timely passage of Senate Bill No. 205, a measure he filed in 2019 which seeks to create a Department of Disaster Resilience.
“Sa ngayon po, nasa committee level na po ito sa Senado. Pasado na po ito sa Lower House. We do not lose hope. Sana po, at a proper time, pumasa po ito para talagang meron tayong department-level na ready para po bago pa dumating ang bagyo,” Go said.
“Post-disaster din po at saka bago pa dumating ang bagyo — ‘yung preparedness natin, ‘yung preposition ng food, maayos ang coordination between agencies na handang tumulong. Dahil sa climate change, prone tayo sa bagyo, pagbaha, paglindol, pati pagputok ng bulkan at iba’t ibang disaster po ang dumating sa buhay natin.
“So, dapat meron tayong opisina na merong regional office down to the provincial office na mag-coordinate sa local government. Muli po akong nakikiusap, at a proper time, maipasa na ito,” he added.
He reiterated that, in the long term, what the country truly needs to become disaster resilient is to institutionalize a single department that will handle all these responsibilities.
“Kaya ako paulit ulit na umaapela na ipasa na ang batas na magtatayo ng Department of Disaster Resilience. Ilang kalamidad at sakuna pa ba ang kailangan para maintindihan na kailangan na nating aksyunan ito upang mas palakasin pa ang mekanismong mayroon tayo ngayon,” he said in previous interviews.