Penalties raised for cutting trees | Inquirer News

Penalties raised for cutting trees

/ 01:39 AM June 03, 2013

You can’t just chop down a coconut tree.

There are grounds under which the coconut tree may be cut and there are stiffer penalties for those who don’t toe the line.

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These are spelled out in Republic Act No. 10593, which was signed into law by President Aquino on May 29.

RA 10593, which amends the Coconut Preservation Act of 1995, states that no coconut tree shall be cut except when the tree is at least 60 years old for tall varieties, and at least 40 years old for dwarf varieties. The old law did not make a distinction between tall and dwarf varieties.

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The new law also allows cutting when the tree is “severely disease-infested and beyond rehabilitation” or was “severely damaged” by typhoon or lightning.

The 1995 law provided regulations for the cutting down of trees and their replenishment.

Like the old law, RA 10593 requires a permit from the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) for the cutting of trees, but raises the application fee to P100 from P25.

Of the fee, P40 will go to the PCA, P40 to the municipal government and P20 to the barangay. The amounts are meant to fund the PCA’s replanting program, and the repair of municipal and barangay roads damaged due to the transport of coconut lumber.

“No permit to cut shall be granted unless the applicant has secured from the barangay captain of the locality where the cutting will be done a certification under oath that he/she has already planted the equivalent number of coconut trees applied for to be cut,” the law says.

RA 10593 vests the PCA with powers to investigate violations; arrest persons committing or attempting to commit the offense; arrest possessors of coconut lumber without permits, and search and seize vehicles transporting illegally cut, gathered or collected coconut lumber; and stop unauthorized shipments of coconut lumber, among others.

As the lead implementing agency, the PCA can deputize policemen and other law enforcement agents to investigate and arrest violators. It would also require the registration of sawmills, lumberyards, coconut wood dealers and others dealing in the processing of coconut trees.

Violators may be penalized with imprisonment of from two to six years, or fines from P100,000 to P500,000, or both. The penalties in the old law ranged from one to six years imprisonment, and from P50,000 to P500,000, or both.—TJ Burgonio

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