Thursday, 29 December 2011 13:21
ISABELA CITY, Basilan – Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Governor Mujiv Hataman sought the help of civil society organizations (CSOs), to tackle the problem on illegal logging in Lanao del Sur.
“The involvement of CSOs is intended to strengthen Task Force Ranao and allow it to enhance its involvement in tackling other illegal activities in the province,” Hataman said as he ordered the immediate formation of the task force, hoping that the intensified task force will help end illegal logging in the area.
The Bureau of Public Information reported that the newly appointed officer-in-charge governor of the ARMM immediately buckled down to work two days after officially taking over the reign of the region’s leadership.
Last December 24, Hataman held a meeting with Lanao del Sur Governor Mamintal Adiong, Jr., Col. Daniel Lucero, Brigade Commander of the Philippine Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, and some officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-ARMM primarily to discuss the case of rampant illegal logging in the province, which is believed to have contributed to the massive flash flood that devastatingly hit Iligan and Cagayan de Oro cities when typhoon Sendong strucked the country.
The OIC-ARMM governor also ordered the region’s environment agency to come out with a transparent and complete report on the historical operations of logging in the province.
He said individuals that will be found to be behind illegal logging operations in the province should be punished and held accountable regardless of their background and affiliation.
The report would also allow the region to assess the extent of the agency’s responsibility on the scale of the flood that hit Iligan, he said.
He also directed the agency to issue a moratorium on logging pending a thorough inventory of areas with trees classified as ‘planted species’, which have been exempted from the total log ban imposed by the ARMM government and can be cut down.
Hataman said the exemption provides a loophole for illegal logging that is made worse by lax law enforcement.
The issue on illegal logging in the province was brought to national attention when thousands of logs, believed to be illegally cut, were washed out from Kapai River and ended in the flooded villages of Iligan City. The river traces its upstream in towns in Lanao del Sur that have been center of illegal and “carabao logging” for years.
The newly installed ARMM leadership has vowed to put an end to this.
In a security briefing, Col. Lucero said law enforcement has been especially difficult in Lanao del Sur mainly due to the prevailing local culture in the province such as the case of rido (clan feud) and the often involvement of some politicians and other powerful individuals.
He said law enforcers are reluctant to implement the rule of law for fear of instigating a rido between their family and that of the erring individual.
Lucero lauded the “no holds barred” directive issued by Hataman and said his brigade is glad to have the full backing of the ARMM government in its campaign against illegal logging and other forms of criminalities in the province.
By Rene V. Carbayas-BPIARMM/PIA9-ZBST
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