ARMM governor vows intensified anti-logging drive

January 7, 2012 1:38 pm 

CAMP SK PENDATUN, Maguindanao, Jan. 7 – More sawmills believed to be operating illegally in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao will be shut down, ARMM Acting Regional Governor Mujib Hataman said on Saturday.

Elements of the newly-reinforced Task Force Ranao have already closed down seven sawmills in the municipality of Kapai in Lanao del Sur.

Col. Daniel Lucero, 103rd Army brigade commander and Task Force Ranao chief, said sawmill operators were appropriately charged for operating without licenses and permits to cut trees.

"This is the result of carabao logging, cutting of small trees and using carabao in hauling logs to the rivers that ended up in Iligan City," Lucero said.

According to Hataman, the task force has recommended the filing of appropriate legal charges against some barangay officials believed to be involved in logging operation in the municipality.

The appointed ARMM chief reiterated his earlier pronouncement of not sparing anyone found to have culpability in the widespread illegal logging in the province, which was blamed by some to have exacerbated the flood that wreaked Iligan City.

An initial report released by Task Force "Sendong," a special task force created by the regional government to investigate the matter, points to VicMar Development Corp., a Makati City-based company, as the largest logging operator in the province since 1975.

Unconfirmed reports suggest influential individuals to be behind the company, enabling it to proceed with its logging operations despite the imposition of a total log ban in the region by the two past governors of the ARMM.

In addition to a total log ban, Hataman also issued a moratorium on the issuance of private land timber permit so as not to provide loggers room for evasion.

Hataman said the crackdown on illegal logging operators, including sawmills, will cover the whole of ARMM where the remaining forest cover continue to vanish. (PNA)

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