Palace warns mayors vs. coddling illegal loggers, miners

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MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday asked mayors to stop being involved in illegal logging and mining operations in their towns, warning that they will have blood in their hands if they pursue activities that have environmental consequences.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this statement after Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that there were cases wherein mayors either directly or indirectly benefited from illegal mining and logging.

“Iniimbestigahan nga po ‘yan ni Secretary Año (That’s being investigated by Secretary Año) and depending on the final results of the investigation, pupuwede pong matanggal sa puwesto yung mga mayor na ‘yan at pupuwede rin makasuhan ng kasong kriminal (they can be removed from their post while others could face criminal charges),” he said in a Palace press briefing.

Roque reminded mayors that they as public officials, should abide by the law and not violate it.

“Well mga mayors, nandiyan po kayo diyan para ipatupad po ang batas hindi para kayo ang lumabag ng batas. Hindi po dapat ginagamit para sa negosyo ang inyong posisyon (To mayors, you’re there to implement the law, not violate the law. You shouldn’t use your position for business),” he said.

Earlier, Año said he had also ordered all local governments and police nationwide to start a crackdown on illegal logging and quarrying and fast-track tree planting activities.

Nakita naman po natin ang danyos na dulot ng illegal logging at illegal mining lalung-lalo na diyan sa probinsya ng Cagayan, you will have blood in your hands kung puprotektahan niyo po ang mga (We saw the damage caused by illegal logging and illegal mining especially in the province of Cagayan, you will have blood in your hands if you protect) illegal miners at illegal loggers,” he added.

He also reminded mayors to conduct upland monitoring against illegal logging and other forms of forest destruction.

Año also advised residents to be wise in voting for local officials who have no connections with anything illegal.

On Nov. 15, Duterte ordered Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to look into reports of illegal logging and mining after Cagayan Valley experienced massive flooding triggered by heavy rainfall due to Typhoon Ulysses.

He lamented that despite being discussed in various meetings, “nothing” had been done to address illegal logging and mining in the country.

“We always talk about illegal logging and mining but actually nothing has been done about it,” he said.

He reiterated the need for urgent climate action, warning that poor countries like the Philippines are most affected by the effects of climate change.

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