DAVAO CITY, Philippines — After watching the video about the havoc brought about by typhoons Vinta and Urduja in the Zamboanga Peninsula, an angry President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to immediately close two logging concessions in the area.
The stop order was issued by DENR Regional Director Felix Mirasol against the Dacon Group of Cos. operating through its subsidiaries, the South Davao Development Co. Inc. (Sodaco) and the Sirawai Plywood and Lumber Corp. (SPLC) in Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte, upon the instruction of President Duterte during a Cabinet meeting Monday night.
During the 21st Cabinet meeting last Monday, a five-minute video was shown to the president about the ravage of typhoons Vinta and Urdja and the illegal logging activities in Zamboanga region.
According to a high placed Palace source ” The President was shaking his head as he watched the video, he was angry and without asking any question, the President asked Roy (referring to Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu) to suspend illegal logging activities in Zamboanga.”
Presidential Spokesperson hary Roque confirmed the order in a press briefing Tuesday, January 9, “The President also ordered several logging concessions in Zamboanga Peninsula to be suspended.”
Duterte according to the Palace official was wondering why the illegal logging activities in Zamboanga continue to operate “His concerned is the displacement of teh indigenous peoples in the area.”
“He also observed that it is widespread logging that is responsible for the flashfloods that Mindanao experienced only this month of December with two typhoons,” said Roque, referring to storms Vinta and Urduja.
Agiculture Secretary Manny Piñol in his faceboook post Monday stated “Angry President Rody Duterte tonight directed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to immediately issue a closure order on the logging operations of the Sodaco Agricultural Corporation in the Zamboanga Peninsula.”
Sodaco or the South Davao Development Company, Incorporated, is owned by the Consunji family.
Following the President’s order, the DENR said on Tuesday that it stopped the operations of two big companies for alleged violation of their Industrial Forest Management Agreements (IFMAs).
According to Piñol’s post, “Sodaco holds a 60,000-hectare concession under the Integrated Social Forestry (ISF) of the Dept. Of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and is blamed for the flash floods and mudslides which killed dozens of people and damaged agricultural lands in four towns of Zamboanga del Norte Dec. 22 at the height of Typhoon Vinta.he agricultural chief said got a 60,000-hectare concession from the DENR as part of its Integrated Social Forestry program in 2006.”
Since then, had been felling trees “on the pretext of clearing the area for an oil palm plantation”.
DENR Secretary Cimatu created a 12-member team composed of local DENR officers from the forestry, mines and environment bureaus to conduct the investigation.
It was learned that Sodaco is operating under their IFMA terms, SPLC and Sodaco “are allowed to establish industrial tree plantations which they can harvest, but are not allowed to cut residual trees unless authorized by the Office of the DENR Secretary under very strict conditions such as for site development and plantation establishment,” the DENR said.
Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) is a production sharing contract entered into by and between the DENR and a qualified applicant wherein the DENR grants to the latter the exclusive right to develop, manage, protect and utilize a specified area of forestland and forest resources therein for a period of 25 years and may be renewed for another 25-year period, consistent with the principle of sustainable development and in accordance with an approved Comprehensive Development and Management Plan (CDMP) and under which both parties share in its produce. (DENR Administrative Order No. 99-53).
A concerned group in Zamboanga also blamed Dacon on the recent killing of eight people due to the explosion of the 81mm mortal shell.
Testimonies of the survivors said the mortar shell which exploded was part of the explosive which Dacon used in it’s exploration but Sirawai police in it’s blotter said it was a vintage bomb which exploded.-Editha Z. Caduaya/Newsline.ph