Illegal loggers linked to contractorsPhilippine Daily Inquirer
BAGUIO CITY—Illegal loggers have been supplying contractors of government road projects in the Cordillera with lumber, a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) official said here.
“Contractors who are awarded government building contracts have been using wood as a component in construction and they source out the wood from the nearest sites … not knowing if the supplies are legally or illegally cut,” Augusto Lagon, Cordillera regional technical director of the DENR’s Forest Management Service, told the Cordillera regional law enforcement coordinating committee meeting on Aug. 29.
He said work delays due to a shortage of lumber appeared to coincide with periods when government cracks down on illegal loggers.
He said some contractors abandoned projects when they learned that they were using illegal materials, fearing that they would be charged alongside their suppliers. This delays the government projects, he said.
Members of an antilogging task force formed by the DENR have urged the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the region’s local governments to use other materials for government projects to curb the demand for illicitly sourced wood.
They said that government should consider the use of alternative materials such as steel instead of wood in the construction of public buildings and bridges.
The task force was formed following the issuance of Executive Order No. 23 by President Aquino in 2011 that imposed a logging moratorium.
Last month, the DENR task forces based in the Cordillera, Ilocos, Cagayan and Central Luzon agreed to share resources to monitor the regions’ forests.
The DPWH, however, said it was not aware of these transactions. Constante Sarmiento, DPWH Cordillera maintenance division chief, said the task force’s call might also be impractical.
“We use wood particularly in construction of school buildings. We use wood in installing retaining walls, partitions and ceilings. Using steel and cement [as an alternative] is very expensive. Other government projects in urban areas may heed this appeal, but it would be difficult in the rural areas because hauling in [steel and cement] is expensive, compared to wood that is just available [in the community],” he said.
Lagon said DENR had confiscated 222 cubic meters of illegally cut pinewood and lauan lumber in the Cordillera from January 2010 to June 2012, and had charged people caught bringing these logs out of the forests. Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon