MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte called on 3 government agencies to study a possible total log ban.
"The President has ordered that a tripartite convergence committee be formed, composed of DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources), DA (Department of Agriculture), and DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government) to discuss details of a total log ban in order to protect our watersheds," said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella in a message to media on Wednesday, February 1.
Duterte gave the order on Tuesday during the Climate Change Commission and Advisory Board en banc meeting at the Palace.
The 3 agencies are set to meet on Monday, February 6, to discuss guidelines for the total log ban, said Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol in a Facebook post.
There is currently a moratorium on logging in natural or residual forests throughout the country, put in place by former President Benigno Aquino III through Executive Order No. 23 in 2011.
The DENR defines natural or residual forests as "forests composed of indigenous trees that were not planted by man."
The EO, however, does not provide for a total log ban since it allowed logging companies with unexpired licenses to continue logging. It also allowed logging in plantation forests, or forests planted by man.
Piñol, who was present at the Palace meeting, said Duterte wants a total log ban "with no exceptions."
Piñol recalled Duterte saying: "Hindi ba total log ban na tayo? (Aren't we under a total log ban?) Stop all logging operations with no exemptions."
However, in the same meeting, Piñol had brought up the implications of prohibiting farmers from cutting trees in their plantations. Farmers in Davao and Caraga regions, for instance, depend on the harvesting of trees for their livelihood.
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez also explained forest management practices in places like Finland that allow people to use the trees but still preserve their forests.
Piñol said Duterte had given the order after hearing about the flash floods experienced in Mindanao provinces like Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon, and North Cotabato.
The agriculture chief said local officials attributed the destructive floods to "unabated" logging in Mindanao watersheds. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.