More heads to roll for logging in Lanao Sur – Hataman
COTABATO CITY, Philippines – Governor Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Tuesday he expected more heads to roll as efforts to identify officials responsible for issuing permits to various logging companies in the five-province region continued.
Hataman relieved Malik Pangandaman, Lanao del Sur provincial environment and natural resources officer, for his alleged failure to explain the existence of logging operations in that province.
Hataman said Pangandaman could not deny the existence of logging in his province because it was common knowledge that cutting of trees was continuing even near Lake Lanao.
The authorities believe that rampant logging operations in the mountains of Lanao del Sur aggravated the flashfloods triggered by the passage of Tropical Storm “Sendong” that killed at least 400 people in Iligan City.
In the aftermath of the floods, hundreds of fallen trees, including many deliberately cut logs, dotted the beaches of Iligan City.
Survivors also recounted that uprooted trees and logs curried by the floodwaters knocked many to death.
Hataman said that aside from dismissing erring officials, his administration would also pursue charges against them.
“We have to file appropriate charges when warranted, because otherwise, I would be liable under the [ARMM] Administrative Code if I tolerated this thing,” Hataman told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Logging, he said, had repeatedly been banned in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan and Sulu, but the cutting of trees continued.
Outgoing ARMM Environment Secretary Usman Sarangani said “carabao logging” or small-scale operations did exist in Lanao del Sur. He said he did not know of any large-scale operation in the province.
But Hataman said his initial information was that three big logging companies were operating in Kapai, Lanao del Sur.
He said he hoped to gather more information on the three big companies and the problem of illegal logging in Lanao del Sur from the Army-led Task Force Ranao, as well as from local government officials.
“The meeting with TFR can hopefully determine which way we could effectively act on the problem created by persisting logging operations in the area, with regards to the marching order of the President on a total log ban in the region,” he said.
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