Measures taken to keep Palawan free of illegal logging

Local government and environment officials in Palawan have taken proactive measures to ensure that no illegal logging activities are conducted in the province.

The multi-sectoral Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF) of Palawan, led by Gov. Jose Chaves Alvarez and DENR’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Juan C. dela Cruz, has been reactivated following reports that timber products from the province are being illegally shipped to Malaysia.

Dela Cruz said task force members, including representatives from the military and police, have agreed to take the following steps to curb the supposed illegal logging trade between Palawan and Malaysia:

• Personnel of the Maritime Special Boat Unit were immediately deployed in all identified possible outlets like in the municipalities of Bataraza and Balabac;

• The Philippine Navy will conduct naval patrol blockade and apprehend all suspect vehicles transporting illegally cut forest products and wildlife;

• All detachments of the Philippine Marines and the Philippine National Police will arrest poachers and illegal transporters within their areas of jurisdiction;

• The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of Quezon and Brooke’s Point were directed to coordinate with military and police detachments in identified hotspot areas and to conduct anti-illegal logging operations.

Earlier, the provincial government of Palawan raised alarm over the rampant illegal logging trade between Malaysia and the province, noting that Malaysian authorities were allegedly freely allowing illegal logs to enter Malaysia through the town of Kudat in Sabah.

Records from the port of Kudat showed that in January this year, 27 motor launches had unloaded logs coming from southern Palawan and that another 12 motor launches unloaded the same cargo in Kudat in June.

However, the AILTF said there was no confirmation that all lumber and rattan poles discovered in the Malaysian port did come from southern Palawan.

The task force cited intelligence report from military and police authorities that most of the vessels carrying the contraband were registered in Zamboanga, Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.

It also noted the possibility that some of the timber products originated from another province since the photographs of timber products seemed to compose mostly of softwood and planted species, which are not among the hardwood species found in southern Palawan forests that have been recorded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Meanwhile, Regional Director Oscar C. Dominguez of the DENR Region 4B-Mimaropa has advised Dela Cruz to request the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Puerto Princesa City in investigating the boat owners and to coordinate with the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).

Domiguez thanked the provincial government and law enforcement agencies in Palawan for their immediate action even as he promised that the DENR will continue to “employ necessary interventions,” with the full support of all stakeholders, to ensure a “more systematic response to illegal activities not only in Palawan, but in the entire Mimaropa region.” ### 





DENR turns over 250,000 ‘Ecosavers passbooks’ to DepEd

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has turned over to the Department of Education (DepEd) an initial 250,000 units of “Ecosavers Club Passbook” to be distributed to public elementary and high school students in Metro Manila who are taking part in the highly praised National Ecosavers Program (NEP).

NEP is a recycling campaign launched by the government in 2012 in a bid to reduce garbage being collected from schools and households through the establishment of an ecological solid waste recovery system in every school, which would allow students to exchange their recyclables and biodegradable waste for school supplies or even cash.

An incentive mechanism was created under the program where students are issued passbooks to record the credit points they earn from their recyclable and biodegradable materials. The recyclables are then pooled for final collection by accredited junk shops and recyclers.

The NEP’s initial phase is being implemented in 783 government primary and secondary schools in the National Capital Region involving some 1.9 million students. The program’s national expansion is underway.

Aside from the DENR and DepEd, the NEP is also being implemented by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), in partnership with the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), Galing Pook Foundation, and major players in the plastics industry.

Prior to the distribution of official Ecosavers passbooks, the DepEd reported that schools implementing the NEP used improvised passbooks for their students. The improvised passbooks indicate the weight of each type of waste brought by the student and the corresponding points.

The DENR, which had allotted P50 million for the initial implementation of the NEP, is targeting the distribution of one million passbooks within the year, and the remaining 900,000 by 2015.

DENR records would show that around 30 percent of the solid waste that remain uncollected come from informal communities where most public students reside.

“The NEP is a way to ensure that solid waste in areas that the MMDA is unable to collect from is reduced, and we thank public schools for their initiative and participation in the program,” said DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.

The environment chief added: “We recognize that the solution to most of our problems comes from the stakeholders themselves. This is a unique, participatory program that involves everyone and benefits everyone.”

During the first meeting of the NEP’s steering committee held at the DENR main office in Quezon City last Tuesday, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said that schools could also benefit from the compost that can be generated from biodegradable wastes brought by students.

The compost can be used for seedlings under the DepEd’s project to grow at least five native tree species on school campuses.

Luistro said the NEP also encourages students to learn financial management at an early age because aside from recording the waste and number of points they have earned, they can also use the passbook in setting up deposit account with partner banks.

Meanwhile, Paje noted that one of the challenges faced by the national government in implementing the NEP is the support from local government units (LGUs).

He thus directed NSWMC Executive Director Ely Ildefonso to develop guidelines to assist in program implementation, including the possibility of requiring LGUs to support the program.

MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez, for her part, said the agency would help in encouraging all barangays in Metro Manila to become active NEP partners of schools within their areas of jurisdiction. ###




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