Use of Aurora as illegal log transport route scored
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Environment advocates are demanding a stop to the continued transport of lumber out of Aurora province which, they said, was a way to skirt the nationwide ban on commercial logging.
Members of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNA) wrote to Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Feb. 1 to report that at least 11,000 board feet of red and white lauan had been hauled by boat from the San Roque sawmill in Barangay Dikapinisan in San Luis town to Dingalan town, both in Aurora.
Copies of several permits obtained by the SSMNA covered a total of 739,668 board feet of lumber, said the alliance chair, Fr. Pete Montallana.
Montallana told the Inquirer by phone that timber companies might be using transport permits to subvert the logging moratorium ordered by President Aquino.
This suspicion arose because representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, SSMNA and the social action desk of Dingalan Parish did not report seeing big volumes of undisposed logs when they checked the San Roque sawmill in March and August 2011, he said.
Paz Pang, the sawmill secretary, said Montallana himself did not see the logs at the time of the visits as these were in a pond. The stocks it has been moving are covered by permits, she said.
She said the company could not be cutting timber in its concession area because of the rains and the bad roads.
The SSMNA urged Paje to verify the inventory made by the department on sawmills and forest plantations after the declaration of the total log ban in February last year.
Ricardo Calderon, regional executive director of the DENR, denied any irregularities, saying the transport permits covered logs that had been paid of forest charges.
According to him, this was consistent with a resolution of the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force signed by the secretaries of the environment, local government and defense departments and the chiefs of police and military. Dated Nov. 28, 2011, the resolution said “all logs with paid forest charges must be processed/milled and disposed of within a non-extendable period of 90 calendar days.” Tonette Orejas and Armand Galang, Inquirer Central Luzon