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PIA Press Release
Friday, January 06, 2012

Create anti-illegal logging task force - clergy

by Jose Mari M. Garcia

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan, Jan 6 (PIA) – Grieving over the Mindanao tragedy, environmentalists and clergymen in Central Luzon appealed to President Aquino to create a separate anti-illegal logging task force to save Sierra Madre.

In an open letter to the President, officials of the Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance (SSMNA) stated seven points to avert what had transpired in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities in happening in Central Luzon.

Alliance chair Fr. Pete Montallana said a Presidential Task Force on Anti-Illegal Logging and Environmental Law Enforcement could be created separate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Sendong revived the memories of the disaster in Ormoc which killed 10,000 people including those in Gingsaugon, Quezon, Aurora, Bicol, and Panay. When will the real logging moratorium be implemented to stop the destruction of nature?” said Montallana.

Martin Francisco, Alliance vice chairman, said the condition of Sierra Madre, the longest mountain range in the country, is “not good” because of unabated illegal logging, charcoal making, legal and illegal mining, and the prevalence of syndicates selling fake land contracts.

“Many poor people don’t have their own land so they plant in the mountains, and corrupt armed groups are prevalent,” said Francisco.

Montalla, parish administrator of Dingalan and Umiray towns in Aurora, added that higher ups should be made accountable for what happened and must be replaced.

Montallana said that the agency supposed to take of the environment failed in doing its duty.

“The President must appoint a new environmental head with the political will to implement the true guardianship of the environment,” said Montallana.

Also advocated in the letter were to push the protection of secondary forests as priority bill of the Aquino administration, declare a moratorium in mining, and to close the mines with cease and desist order. (WLB/JMG-PIA 3)

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