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Sibuco mayor saddened over DENR’s decision to clear two logging companies of liability


Sibuco Mayor Norbideiri Edding has expressed disgust over the findings of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) investigative team clearing the liabilities of two multi-national logging firms for the flashflood and mudslides that killed dozens of people and destruction of properties in Zamboanga del Norte at the height of Typhoon Vinta last December 2017.

Edding said that he already reported the result of the DENR investigation to President Rodrigo Duterte and the president has vowed that this issue shall be investigated.

The Sibuco mayor also said that no less than Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu told him that the investigation was not yet conclusive and final.

Cimatu vowed to call for a separate investigation to compare the two findings.

Earlier, President Duterte ordered the suspension of logging operations of two big logging companies, the South Davao Development Company, Inc. and the Sirawai Plywood Lumber Corporation in Sibuco town for violations of the Industrial Forest Management Agreement (IFMA).

The DENR has issued five IFMAS to the two firms. Both companies have a combined area of 70,709 hectares, covering 12 towns traversing the boundaries of Zamboanga Del Norte and Del Sur.

Under the terms and conditions, the SPLC and SODACO are allowed to establish industrial tree plantations which they can harvest, but are not allowed to cut residual trees unless authorized by the Office of the DENR Secretary under very strict conditions such as for site development and plantation establishment.

President Duterte has instructed Cimatu to issue the suspension order based from a video presented by Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol of the deforested portion of the Zamboanga mountain range where flash floods brought down logs that rampaged through the coastal communities.

Edding along with Piñol inspected the areas on board a helicopter and both witnessed the vast logging operations that resulted to flashfloods at the height of the tropical storm.

It was then Cimatu who directed DENR investigators to be deployed in the province to conduct an exhaustive probe to see if there have been violations committed by the logging companies in their permits.

Edding thanked the president and the DENR Secretary for their immediate action and concern to the people of Zamboanga del Norte. (Elinor Fernandez)

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