Cotabato gov orders arrest of illegal loggers, miners

January 8, 2012 12:20 pm 

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Jan 8 -– Amidst the tragedies that hit Mindanao since last year as a result of environmental degradation, Cotabato Governor Lala Taliño-Mendoza has given ‘marching orders’ to the local police, Army, and concerned agencies to arrest all illegal loggers and those individuals and groups doing illegal mining operations in the province.

Mendoza said logging, mining, and aerial spraying are banned in North Cotabato.

She said the basis for her strong stance is the existing Environment Code of North Cotabato, an ordinance she authored a decade ago while she was still a member of the provincial board.

The environment code, she stressed, serves as the ‘bible’ of her administration in implementing programs as regards ecological protection.

“This code is not just an ordinary law. Also, it’s not a temporary law that we have. This serves as our bible,” said Mendoza.

However, reports have reached Mendoza’s office that small-scale mining operations are happening in Arakan, the town where the slain Father Fausto Tentorio of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission had served for more than two decades.

Tentorio was also a staunch anti-mining advocate, according to the Justice for Pops Movement, an alliance of progressive and militant groups in North Cotabato and other parts of Mindanao organized after the killing of the missionary in October last year.

Mendoza said she is also validating reports that there are mining operations in the towns of Libungan, Tulunan, and in Magpet.

But, at this time, she admitted, there is no clear proof to any of the claims.

“The provincial government, in partnership with the PNP, DENR, and the Army, will continue to implement the policy against mining and illegal logging: confiscate logs, impound vehicles used in the illegal activities, and file complaints against the perpetrators,” she said. (PNA)

DCT/NYP/MCM/jsd

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