Agusan officials summon political will to keep overloaded trucks off roads
by Herzon F. Gallego
Butuan City (4 August) -- Local executives in the 14 towns of Agusan del Sur including the provincial government have braced for strong political will in the enforcement of ordinances in their respective political jurisdiction to protect the roads from severe damages caused by heavy trucks that are transporting with over-loaded forest, agriculture and other industrial products.
This was the consensus of the local officials, tree farmers, tribal leaders, top executives of the wood processing companies, owners of private plantations, heads of government and non-government offices and the DENR field officers headed by PENRO Sixto S. Badua during the DENR-sponsored "Salugnayan" program at the Provincial Training Center in Patin-ay, Agusan del Sur on Thursday, July 31, 2008.
The forum was presided over by the DENR OIC, Regional Executive Director Edilberto S. Buiser and Agusan del Sur Provincial Governor Ma. Valentina G. Plaza represented by her Vice Governor Santiago B. Cane, Jr.
CENR officers Jovencio V. Munoz of Talacogon, Jaime C. Acebu of Bayugan, Edgardo E. Bacumo of Loreto and Eutiquio M. Bade, Jr of Bunawan were also present to assist PENRO Badua and OIC, RED Buiser to immediately address the issue at hand.
The mayors have stressed that only those logging trucks carrying the maximum weight capacity as specified in the ordinance shall be allowed to pass through the provincial and municipal roads in the province to protect the roads from deterioration. Excess loads shall be confiscated and impounded at specified depository area that is managed by the provincial government.
The mayors have also insisted that this regulation including forestry laws must be enforced equally without favor in the "interest of pubic service" in their respective areas.
Director Buiser said that the pressing issue confronting the local officials at present is the bad road condition of the roads in some areas that are frequently used by logging trucks carrying excess loads of forest products from private plantations and Integrated Forest Management Areas (IFMA). The bad road condition is further aggravated by heavy downpour.
He said that in the recent "salugnayan" in the remote town of San Luis, Agusan del Sur, the holders of wood processing plants have committed to shoulder the cost of repair of the roads since the municipal government has inadequate funds for the maintenance of the 33- kilometer damaged roads from Barangay Binicalan to the town proper.
The Vice Mayor of Talacogon Pedro Pugahan said that most of the 10-wheeler trucks passing through the major roads with excess loads of forest products has contributed to the fast dilapidation of roads.
According to Vice Governor Cane, it's a matter of implementing the ordinance in the respective towns to regulate the required load of logging trucks.
Mayor Salimar T. Mandohas of Veruela said that they were able to maintain the good condition of the road because of the strict imposition of the ordinance.
During the same forum, director Buiser has also clarified that only two forest checkpoints are authorized by the DENR along the highway of Agusan del Sur, which are located in Cuevas, Trento and Tabon-Tabon, Sibagat. Any forest checkpoint, outside of this, are possibly run by the LGU or any other unauthorized entity.
Director Buiser was reacting to the complaints raised by a tree farmer from San Francisco town that the proliferation of many forest checkpoints along the highway have swallowed up a big part of their earnings per truck-loads of falcata logs.
On the other hand, PENRO Badua said, any policies affecting the private tree plantation industry which are being implemented by other government agencies must be thoroughly reviewed for the tree farmers to thrive and earn enough profits. (DENR-13/PIA-Caraga) [top]