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Citizens’ arrest versus illegal loggers sought

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“All logs transported from natural forests are illegal. Any citizen can confiscate the illegal logs,” said Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.

The categorical declaration by Paje is in line with Executive Order No. 23 issued by President Aquino on February 1, 2011, which declared a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests.

Paje also discussed the concept of “social fencing,” which Albay Governor Joey Salceda said “made its mark on me…when you involve the community, you don’t have to build a physical fence.”

Paje said social fencing refers to harnessing the help of the members of the local communities by educating and mobilizing them so that care for the forests begins at the inner and upland areas, instead of concentrating on just their outside perimeter and on the plains. The whole forest is thus protected and potential damage from illegal logging or natural disasters is checked both from the top or the forest core, he said.

Paje explained that this move was necessary to complement mere confiscation because even if there is 100 percent success through “citizens’ arrests,” it may not deliver 100 percent success in forest protection.

“A felled tree cannot be restored to its forest life. True forest protection thus is when you prevent a tree from being cut,” Paje noted.

All illegal logs confiscated, as per stipulation in EO 23, are to be used for building classrooms and desks.

“This is for the next generation. The present generation destroyed (these logs). At least, let the future generation sit on them,” the secretary stressed.
The DENR secretary said the country now has 15.8 million hectares of forest land, 7.6 million of which have trees for cover and 8.2 million bare – denuded and degraded. By 2013, it aims to reverse that ratio in favor of more hectareage with forest cover, supported by another executive order, EO 26. (PCOO/PIA9-BST)




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