Cimatu orders review of forest management licenses in PH
MANILA, Philippines – Following the suspension of two logging concessions on the Zamboanga Peninsula, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered a review of 104 companies that were granted Integrated Forest Management Agreements (IFMAs) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In a statement on Wednesday, January 10, the DENR said that companies under the IFMA are "allowed to establish industrial tree plantations in the area but are restricted to cut residual trees unless authorized by the DENR Secretary."
"Secretary Cimatu especially cited the need for compliance and performance evaluation of the IFMA sites," the DENR added.
Majority or 51 of the companies with IFMAs are in Mindanao, while 40 are in Luzon and 13 are in the Visayas. Out of the 51 in Mindanao, 10 companies are on the Zamboanga Peninsula.
The environment secretary said that while several companies have stopped operating, there are reports of illegal poaching in these sites.
"We will make them (the IFMA holders) accountable if we find that there were violations in what are supposed to be their obligation to help manage the forest, and not to be the culprit behind such environmental degradation," Cimatu said in the statement.
On Monday, January 8, President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the DENR to suspend "several logging concessions in Zamboanga Peninsula."
According to Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, Duterte observed that it is widespread logging that is responsible for the flashfloods that Mindanao experienced last December after tropical storms Vinta and Urduja.
The DENR confirmed on Tuesday, January 9, that it had suspended the operations of the Dacon Group of Companies (DGC), which is operating on the Zamboanga Peninsula through the Sodaco Agricultural Company Incorporated, and the Sirawai Plywood and Lumber Corporation in Sibuco town.
The environment department stopped the operations of the two companies for alleged violation of their IFMAs.
On Wednesday, the DENR said Cimatu gave a 12-member DENR probe team until Friday, January 12, to complete its investigation into the DGC areas previously cited as the deforested portion of a Zamboanga mountain range.
Initial reports from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office on the Zamboanga Peninsula said the the deforested portion was believed to be the site preparation of Sodaco. – Rappler.com
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