PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has formed a tripartite convergence committee that will formulate the guidelines for the total implementation of government’s stringent measures against illegal logging in the country, Malacañang said on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the committee, composed of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Agriculture (DA), and Department of Interior and Local Government, would look into ways to implement total log ban nationwide.

“The President has ordered that a tripartite convergence committee be formed, composed of DENR, DA, and DILG to discuss details of a total log ban in order to protect our water sheds,” Abella said in a statement.

In a Facebook post, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said that during the en banc meeting of the Climate Change Commission on Tuesday night, Duterte instructed the tripartite committee to implement the ban on logging in the country “without any exemptions.”

Duterte, as quoted by Piñol, said “We have a total log ban, right? Stop all logging operations with no exemptions.”

Piñol said that during the meeting, he told the President about the massive flooding in the different river basins of Mindanao resulting from denuded mountains and heavily-silted rivers.

He added that Environment Secretary Gina Lopez also admitted that despite the total log ban, several companies were still given licenses to cut down trees under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement and the Community-Based Forest Management contracts awarded by the agency.

Piñol said Duterte had then given Lopez the full authority to prohibit illegal logging all over the country.

On February 6, the tripartite committee would start formulating guidelines on the total log ban.

“The tripartite committee will meet on Monday, February 6, to formulate the guidelines on the total logging ban ordered by President Duterte and design programs, which would ensure the efficient restoration of the denuded watersheds in the country,” Piñol said. (SunStar Philippines)