Google map of Magpet, North Cotabato
COTABATO CITY – Environment officials in North Cotabato are investigating the reported illegal logging and illegal mining activities in the hinterlands of Magpet town, officials said Friday.
“We are investigating and we will enforce the law without fear or favor,” Mamutur Cariga, chief of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO), said over a radio interview here.
Cariga said they immediately sent personnel to verify the report on Thursday afternoon after residents complained of massive cutting of trees and digging by suspected illegal miners in Barangay Don Panaca.
“As far as we are concerned, North Cotabato is mining-free,” Cariga said, surmising that the digging in Barangay Don Panaca could have been done by treasure hunters.
Several villagers in the area who spoke on condition that they remained unidentified, however, told PENRO officials that the digging was allegedly financed by a military man, Cariga said.
Lt. Colonel Rey Alvarado, commander of the Army’s 72nd Infantry Battalion based in Magpet, said as far as his unit is concerned, no soldier is involved in illegal logging or illegal mining.
“Our troops know it is illegal and they will not venture into it,” he said in a separate radio interview. “We are conducting a separate probe.”
Cariga said the Army and the police remain reliable partners in the implementation of forestry laws in the province. (PNA)