National task force against illegal logging pushes for creation of regional counterparts

Illegally logged rosewood from Masoala and Mar...Image via WikipediaA March 8, 2011 press release prepared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

The National Anti-illegal Logging Task Force (NAILTF) chaired by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje recently passed a resolution calling for the creation of local task forces in all regions of the country, except in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Paje said the move is in response to a provision in Executive Order No. 23, which orders the body to establish closer ties with local government units (LGUs) in the crusade against illegal logging.

“To underscore the role of the LGUs in the implementation of EO 23, Resolution No. 2011-003 designates the Regional Task Forces (RTF) to act on reports by local executives, through their provincial governors or the regional directors of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG),” Paje said.

Resolution 2011-003 provides that “all concerned municipal/city mayors, though their respective barangay captains” are to conduct upland monitoring “to ensure that no illegal logging, kaingin and other forms of forest destruction” take place within their jurisdictions with the injunction to report to the RTFs, “through the Provincial Governor and/or the DILG Regional Director,” incidents of forests destruction especially kaingin and illegal logging activities.

Paje reminded concerned local officials to “exercise extra vigilance” in taking heed of the resolution’s injunction on reporting all forms of destructive activities inside the forest as the resolution imposes a sanction of preventive suspension with the possibility of facing appriorate charges to be filed by no less than DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, who is also a member of the five-man NAILTF created by virtue of EO 23.

Other members of NAILTF included National Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine National Police Chief Raul Bacalzo, and Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Ricardo David, Jr.

Under the resolution, the RTFs are to be created in all administrative regions, except the NCR, to be chaired by the concerned DENR Regional Executive Director with the DILG regional director as vice chair, and the PNP Regional Director and concerned Brigade Commanders of the AFP as members.

Tasked to be “responsible for the overall implementation of (EO 23) in their respective areas of jurisdiction and shall directly report to the (NAILTF),” the RTFs “can call upon the support of all government agencies,” including the PNP and AFP Environmental Desks which are created under the PNP Regional Directorate and the AFP Brigade Commanders, respectively.

Said environmental desks are to “coordinate the provision of police and military support to all anti-illegal logging operations” of the NAILTF and the RTFs..

To further give more teeth to Resolution 2011-003, Paje bared that the body also passed Resolution 2011-04 detailing a wide range of undertakings the body are to take which include the conduct of periodic aerial surveillance; acquisition of aerial photos to be provided by the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), particularly of critical areas and hotspots identified by the DENR; conduct of massive consultations and trainings with upland peoples organizations on the development of social fences around natural and residual forests nationwide.