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Palace stand on total log ban draws mixed reactions from lawmakers

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Malacanang's pronouncement to impose a total log ban nationwide particularly in the CARAGA region to prevent the recurrence of devastating floods has drawn mixed reactions from the members of the House of Representatives.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Guillermo Romarate Jr. welcomed the imposition of total log ban in the country, noting that even his district (second district) is encountering a lot of problems with regard to the illegal logging as well as illegal mining.

Romarate, vice chairman of the House committee on Mindanao affairs, said President Benigno S. Aquino III's total log ban pronouncement is very timely and commendable.

"It is a high time that the President made this pronouncement especially now that our watershed area is very much affected," he said.

Catanduanes Rep. Cesar Sarmiento, vice chairman of the House committee on national defense and security, said the President's total log ban declaration should not only cover the areas of CARAGA but also include other areas like the Bicol Region, particularly Catanduanes.

Sarmiento, however, said that the President should also take into consideration the valid concern of some sectors that the total log ban will displace people who depend on logging for livelihood.

"The total log ban policy has not become successful in the past precisely because the livelihood aspect was not considered," he said.

But for Agusan del Norte Rep. Angelica Amante-Matba, she said she is not sharing Malacanang's position unless she sees the national government's clear-cut alternative livelihood program for the people who will be displaced by the total log ban.

Amante-Matba, chairperson of the House committee on women and gender quality, said she understands the President's concern because she hails from the CARAGA region and the Chief Executive saw for himself the illegal logs that have been confiscated by Task Force Pagbabago.

"My point is, I don't think this can be considered as a long-term solution because we have to temper it with the fact that there are logging companies especially in my district who are doing their business legitimately," she said.

"What will happen if these companies start closing down because of these impositions by the President? What will happen to the displaced workers who will run for help not to the national government but to the local officials?" Amante-Matba asked.

The lady solon stressed that the government cannot impose a total log ban without considering first where to put the people who will be sidelined by the presidential pronouncement.

She noted that it is her duty as elected representative of her district to make sure that the interests of her constituents are protected. The President is set to sign an Executive Order this week that seeks to address the problem on illegal logging. (PNA/PIA-BST)




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