7 local government execs probed for illegal logging-A A +A
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
DAVAO CITY – The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) is investigating at least seven local chief executives from different regions for alleged involvement in illegal logging.
DILG Undersecretary Austere Panadero said Tuesday that of the seven, five are in Caraga Region in Mindanao. He said these local officials are now being asked to explain their side.
"From there, the appropriate charges will start. Our investigation is ongoing for validation and counterchecking. Madali lang naman kasi mag-allege, eh," Panadero said.
Panadero said three years ago, they also investigated a local chief executive for an alleged involvement in illegal logging, but it turned out negative.
Over the weekend, 31 executives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were relieved of their posts for failure to stop illegal logging activities in their areas of responsibility.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje announced the relief of 31 DENR executives in Caraga and Davao regions as an offshoot to the confiscation of P16 million worth of "hot logs" in Manila North Harbor purportedly shipped from Davao.
Paje said it has been a year and four months since President Benigno Aquino III ordered a logging ban yet reports of log confiscations continue.
Executive Order No. 23 was issued by President Aquino in February 2011 declaring a moratorium on the cutting or harvesting of timber in natural and secondary forests nationwide.
Under the order, an anti-illegal logging task force was created to implement the logging ban, comprising the departments of the Interior and Local Government and National Defense, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, chief of the Philippine National Police, with the DENR Secretary as chair.
Despite this, illegal logging still abound in the boundaries of Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Agusan and Surigao provinces. The boundaries of the four provinces are known to be the hotbed of illegal logging activities with some local government officials suspected to be involved in the illegal activity.
Paje said the relief of the 31 officials is part of continuing efforts in the pursuit of good governance in the DENR.
As of May 2012, a total of 32 employees have been dismissed and suspended, 34 were charged with various offenses, while 176 are under investigation.
In a related development, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo also ordered an investigation against Camarines Norte Governor Edgardo Tallado for his alleged involvement in various illegal mining activities in the iron ore and gold-rich towns of Paracale and Jose Panganiban.
The probe came after several complaints reaching the DILG, Bureau of Customs and DENR filed by various local non-governmental organizations and environmentalist groups against illegal mining operations in Camarines Norte.
“The complaints lodged against him by his constituents are serious enough to warrant an immediate investigation,” Robredo said.
Early this year, Robredo also ordered an investigation against Pantukan Mayor Celso Sarenas for his alleged negligence on the January 2012 landslide in a small-scale mining area that resulted to the death of several miners.
DILG regional director Francisco Jose, however, said that Robredo was satisfied with Mayor Sarenas' explanation regarding the incident and the mayor was cleared of any negligence on his part. (BOT of Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 04, 2012.