It is very encouraging and reassuring to know that President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered a Tri-Partite Convergence Committee that will formulate guidelines and other details of total log ban implementation in the country.
Knowing who Duterte is and his earnest concern for the country and the Filipino people it should be relieving to all that the government’s log ban policy will be forcefully and finally implemented for good.
I am saying this because it is not that the policy of a total log ban has not been mulled over and studied in the past by past administrations. The long and short of it is because past presidents and past Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials just did not have the backbone to implement it vigorously.
Proofs to this are the pieces I wrote in 2012 and 2013 which can be read at these links: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/illegal-loggers/ and https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/logging-ban/.
Reportedly, the committee will be composed of the DENR, Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).
What adds to the favorable action of Duterte is the presence of two supportive and dependable Cabinet stalwarts, namely, DA Secretary Manny Piñol and DENR Secretary Gina Lopez.
In fact what prompted Duterte to issue the directive for the formation of the committee is the apprehension raised by Piñol, during the Climate Change Commission (CCC) En Banc and Advisory Board Meeting in Malacañang, about the massive floods in various river basins in Mindanao due to denuded mountains.
In the same venue Lopez told Duterte that despite the total log ban, several companies were given licenses to cut down trees under the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) and the Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) contracts.
With Duterte’s order to stop all logging operations with no exemptions we can expect the greening of the mountains again and the mitigation of landslides and flash floods.
But this will take time for so much destruction has been done to the nation’s water sheds. In the meantime the agencies tasked to implement the order should continually be in the look- out for the unscrupulous loggers.