Illegal logging continues in MIMAROPA despite Luzon lockdown

PALAWAN, Philippines – Illegal logging in provinces under the Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan (MIMAROPA) region continue even amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon, as environment authorities seized over 1,100 board feet of lumber, mostly from banned tree species, during the said period.

In the first two weeks of the Luzon lockdown, which covers MIMAROPA, enforcers seized abandoned lumber in separate locations in the region. The lumber was believed to be illegally cut while most people were staying at home, observing extreme measures to fight COVID-19. No violators, however, were captured.

“We know that illegal loggers would take advantage of the situation, so we strengthened our monitoring and enforcement teams through the LGUs and communities to prevent them,” DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado said in a statement on Wednesday, April 1.

In Occidental Mindoro, 880.28 board feet of amugis, lauan, and banuyo were confiscated on March 22 in Sitios Anduyanan and San Pablo in Barangay Alipaoy, Paluan town. The items are from premium tree species used to build structures and make furniture.

“We have to retrieve the lumber immediately; otherwise, the perpetrators would get them back, or other people might take them for personal use,” said Ernesto Tañada, provincial environment chief in Occidental Mindoro.

The apprehended lumber has been documented and put under the custody of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Sablayan.

Meanwhile in Romblon, on March 23, environment enforcers found 266 board feet of apitong lumber in Barangay Espana in San Fernando town. The team, backed by the police, also retrieved 120 board feet of red lauan in Barangay Mabini.

“It is difficult at these times, but we maintain to be on call 24/7 to protect our forests,” said Romblon environment officer Maximo Landrito.

In Palawan, enforcers recovered 10 sacks of mangrove charcoal in Barangay Aberawan, El Nido town on March 16. The group also apprehended 10 sacks of forest tree charcoal abandoned at Sitio Talogon, Barangay Bagong-bayan in Taytay town, March 21.

“Our team likewise responded to a slash-and-burn (kaingin) cultivation in Sitio Sablayan, Barangay Pancol, also in Taytay on March 23. The incident shall be under further investigation as we have already identified the owner of the lot, as well as those who initiated the activity,” Taytay CENR Officer Alan Valle reported.

The regional environment chief thanked the communities for keeping a watchful eye on the environment despite grappling with the dreaded disease. CENRO Sablayan received a tip on the abandoned lumber from a concerned citizen. Meanwhile, CENRO Taytay was informed of the illegal activities through social media.

With COVID-19 cases present in MIMAROPA, Adornado assured that the enforcement teams across the region are taking precautionary measures against the disease whenever it responds to environmental law violation reports. – Rappler.com