Joint fact-finding committees vs. illegal logging, illegal mining created

November 5, 2012 11:23 pm 

MANILA, Nov. 5 — The Departments of Justice (DOJ), Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have created Joint Fact-Finding Committees to handle cases involving illegal logging and illegal mining.

Under Joint Department Order (JDO) Nos. 001-2012 and 002-2012, Fact-Finding Committees were created, composed of officials, lawyers, investigators and prosecutors from the three departments and the concerned agencies and offices under their respective jurisdictions such as the National Bureau of Investigation, the National Prosecution Service, and Philippine National Police.

The NBI, the Philippines' premier investigating body, and the NPS are attached agencies of the DOJ, while the PNP is an attached agency of the DILG.

Composing the Joint Fact-Finding Committees are DENR Undersecretary Demetrio L. Ignacio Jr., Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo L. Jasareno, Atty. Alvin Giolagon of the DILG, PNP Senior Supt. Danilo S. Pelisco, NBI Head Agent Sixto O. Coloma, and Assistant State Prosecutor Gil Marie Fe S. Pacamarra.

They are mandated to investigate, collect evidence, build cases and file appropriate charges against those involved or responsible for illegal logging and illegal mining operations, including incidents of violence against, or killing of those charged with enforcing and implementing the government's campaign against such illicit activities, or those otherwise involved in the fight against illegal logging and illegal mining.

To ensure accountability and effective performance of said Committees, the JDOs provide for the submission of monthly reports to the Secretaries of the DENR, DILG and DOJ, for onward transmission to the Office of the President (OP).

The creation of such Joint Fact-Finding Committees was done pursuant to a directive from President Benigno S. Aquino III for the three departments "to meet and plan to intensify the implementation" of the anti-illegal logging and anti-illegal mining campaign and to "ensure the conviction" of those who violate the law.

President Aquino issued the directive after noting not just the public health and safety hazards and environmental degradation that result from such illicit activities, but also the violence and bloodshed that trail the government's efforts to combat and eradicate such illegal operations.

"These Fact-Finding Committees, which directly report to us three Cabinet Secretaries and, through us, to the President, were created to ensure that the investigations and the case build-up are effective in rooting out those responsible for the persistence of these illegal operations," DOJ Secretary Leila M. De Lima said.

"We want to ensure that everyone who profits from these activities, including and especially those who resort to violence against law enforcers and anti-illegal logging and anti-illegal mining activists, are all brought to justice," De Lima added.

"We fear, as it has indeed been reported, that the reason why these illicit operations still persist is because there are strategically positioned government agents, officers or officials who protect these operations," she said.

"If they think they are untouchable, by the creation and operation of these Committees, we intend to disabuse them of such notion," she stressed. (PNA)

SCS/PTR

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