Aquino signs E.O. No. 23 declaring moratorium on cutting, harvesting of timber and creating anti-logging task force

February 4, 2011 12:28 pm 

MANILA, Feb. 3 — President Benigno S. Aquino III on Thursday signed Executive Order No. 23 declaring a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests, and creating the anti-illegal logging task force.

EO 23 revokes, amends and/or modifies all executive orders, rules and regulations and other issuances which are inconsistent with the said EO.

In signing the EO, the Chief Executive directed to prohibit itself the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from issuing logging contracts/agreements in all natural and residual forests such as Integrated Forest Management Agreements (IFMA), Socialized Integrated Forest Management Agreements (SIFMA), Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) and other agreements/contracts with logging components in all natural and residual forests in the country.

Likewise, the DENR is prohibited from issuing or renewing tree cutting permits in all natural and residual forests nationwide except for clearing of the road right of way by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), site preparation for tree plantations, silvicultural treatment and similar activities, provided that all logs derived from the said cutting permits shall be turned over to the DENR for proper disposal.

The EO further stated that the tree cutting associated with cultural practices pursuant to the Indigenous Peoples Right Act may be allowed subject to existing guidelines of the DENR.

Existing IFMas, SIFMAs, CBFMAs and other agreements and contracts shall be reviewed and evaluated by the DENR and immediately terminate contracts and agreements of those who violated twice the terms and conditions of their contracts /agreements and existing forest laws, rules and regulations, and if the holders of these contracts/agreements engage in logging activities in any natural or residual forest.

According to the EO, the DENR shall strictly implement a forest certification system in accordance with the United Nations standards and guidelines so as to ascertain the sustainability of legal sources and chain of custody of timber and wood products nationwide.

The DENR shall close and not allow the sawmills, veneer plants and other wood processing plants to operate if they fail to present proof of sustainable sources of legally cut logs for a period of at least five years within one month once the EO on illegal logging takes effect.

The EO further orders the DENR, through the Department of Agriculture-DENR- Department of Agrarian Reform Convergence Initiative, to develop a National Greening Program (NGP) while the Department of Education (DepEd) and the Commission on Higher Education shall initiate the educational drive campaign.

The Department of Interior and Local Government(DILG) shall help in the establishment of communal tree farms for firewood and other purposes and the Department of Social Welfare and Development shall identify the upland farmers covered by the NGP as priority beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program.

On the other hand, the Department of Budget and Management shall provide the necessary funds for the production of quality seedlings for the NGP from available funds of the government and the private sector.

Other sectors and agencies are also ordered to raise funds for tree planting activities.

The DepEd shall be the priority recipient of all confiscated logs.

The DENR Secretary shall chair the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force and the members shall include the secretaries of the Interior and Local Government and National Defense, the Chief of the Philippine National Police and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or their authorized representatives.

The Task Force will enforce and lead the anti-illegal logging campaign and ensure the implementation of the EO under the supervision of the DENR.

It shall also assist the DENR in the implementation of other environmental laws.

The DBM shall provide the DENR P10 million as initial budget for the Task Force and the release of additional funds has to be approved by the President. (PNA)

DCT/LAM/PCOO/ssc

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