Briefer on Executive Order No. 23 s. 2011, declaring a national moratorium on logging natural and residual forests

March 18, 1989. In an effort to reduce deforestation in the Philippines, President Corazon Aquino announced a ban on timber exports. The ban went into effect July 1, 1989. Prior to this, in October 1988, Cory Aquino placed a tax on loggers to pay for a government-run program to plant new trees.
At that time, the deforestation issue was taken up to address the displacement of indigenous people, the protection of endangered Philippine species, and the issue of massively exported timber.

June 1, 1992. Republic Act No. 7586, the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act, was signed. Although not specific to logging, it sought the protection of select nature reserves, natural parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and natural biotic areas.
February 1, 2011: President Benigno S. Aquino III signed Executive Order No. 23, declaring a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests nationwide, and creating the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force.
Through this EO, the government wishes to address the continuing problem of deforestation, which has led to floods, soil erosion, and landslides that have claimed lives, displaced families, and damaged millions of pesos worth of property. It also aims to address the killings allegedly carried out in connection with illegal logging activities in the area.
Furthermore, the EO is a manifestation of President Aquino’s commitment to his agenda and policy on environment protection, and in accordance to his platform, the 16-point Social Contract with the Filipino People, which calls for change from a “government obsessed with exploiting the country for immediate gains to the detriment of its environment, to a government that will encourage sustainable use of resources to benefit the present and future generations.”
  • DENR is prohibited from issuing/renewing logging contracts and tree cutting permits;
  • DENR shall review all existing logging agreements and immediately cancel those that have violated forest laws;
  • DENR shall strictly implement forest certification system in keeping with UN standards;
  • DENR shall close and disallow sawmills and other wood processing plants that are unable to present proof of sustainable sources of legally cut logs for a period of at least 5 years;
  • DENR shall create partnerships (with DepEd, CHED, DILG, DSWD, DBM) to raise awareness, funds and resources for tree planting;
  • DepEd shall be given priority in the use of all confiscated logs;
  • Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force shall be created to enforce the moratorium and lead the anti-illegal logging campaign; and
  • P10,000,000 shall be given to DENR as initial budget for the task force.
Casualties and Damages
For the year 2010 alone, natural calamities caused by deforestation have taken 36 lives, while 3 remain missing. They have caused injuries to 32 individuals, displaced thousands of families (118,728), and caused an estimated PhP142.306 million in damages.
Figure 1. Human casualties caused by deforestation from January to December 2010
Floods and Flash Floods17103
Landslide and Soil Erosion19220
Figure 2. Damages caused by deforestation from January to December 2010
Floods and Flash Floods117,972593,79611536113.006 M
Landslide and Soil Erosion7563,99851369.3 M
TOTAL118,728597,794166891142.306 M
Calamities by region
Caraga Region
January 4, 2010. Flash floods and landslides claimed the lives of at least 20 people and displaced some 260,000 in provinces in the Caraga region, Compostela Valley and Lanao del Norte. A state of calamity was declared in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and Agusan del Norte after landslides and floods destroyed farmlands, bridges, roads, and power lines.
January 2, 2011. In St. Bernard Town, Southern Leyte, three children were reported to have been killed due to landslides and flooding. Thousands of residents—around 1,500 families—were affected due to the flooding due to over a week of continuous rains.
January 1 to 13. In Albay, according to Benito Ramos of NDRRMC, floods and landslides caused by more than two weeks of heavy rains in late December and January displaced nearly 400,000 people. Most of the casualties either drowned or were buried by mudslides. Five people went missing, including three fishermen.
In what is allegedly a battle between government forest protection forces and illegal logging syndicates, six anti-logging advocates have been killed from 2010 up to January 2011 throughout the country, the latest being a DENR forest ranger killed on January 13, 2011.
2010 June 14Davao Oriental, ManayJessie Camangyan, Radio Broadcaster killed for his vigilance vs illegal logging
2010 July 09Apayao, LunaKennedy Bayani, DENR forest ranger slain thru gunfire
2010 August 21San Agustin, SDSChristopher Mazo, Police inspector allegedly killed by a sniper NPA
2010 October 29Bislig, SDSNelson Luna, Bantay Gubat slain thru gunfire
2010  December 06Lianga, SDSRoalndo Sinday, DENR Tree Marker slain thru gunfire
2011 January 13Bislig, SDSJacinto Dragas, DENR Forest ranger
(1) PMS, Briefing note on data lives lost and peso value of calamities aggravated by deforestation, January 2011.
(2) Trade & Environment Database: Case Study on Philippine Deforestation, 1990’s
(3) Aquino B. (2010), A social contract with the Filipino People: 16 point agenda, 2010
(4) Pulin J.(2002), Trends in Forest Policy in the Philippines, UPLB, 2002
(5) RA7586 (1992) National Integrated Protected Areas System Act
(6) Avendaño C. (2011), Aquino orders assistance for flood victims in Visayas, Mindanao , Inquirer January 4, 2011
(7) Alave K. (2011), Death toll in floods, slides in South now 10, Inquirer Mindanao, January 5, 2011