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Regional directors, representatives of the government agencies, and some private stakeholders together with Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante, Jr. and other officials witness the inauguration of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Caraga’s new Science and Technology Center, as well as the groundbreaking of its Metrology Laboratory at the Caraga State University (CSU) Campus, Barangay Ampayon, Butuan City headed by Regional Director Lyndo Villacorta. (PIA-Caraga)

PIA Press Release
Sunday, January 15, 2012

News Feature: DENR-13 exceeds 2011 targets for national greening and anti-illegal logging programs

by Eric F. Gallego

While 2011 saw parts of Mindanao devastated by tropical storm Sendong—and brought to the fore the extent of environmental degradation in the island—the year also saw successes in government efforts towards protecting the environment and people from further harm.

Regional Executive Director Leonardo R. Sibbaluca said that, during his first year as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office 13, the agency’s accomplishments were above-par, especially in two major programs: the National Greening Program (NGP) and anti-illegal logging campaign.

The NGP (or Executive Order No. 26) seeks to plant some 1.5 billion trees all over the country from 2011 to 2016. This will cover 1.5 million hectares of the public lands such as forestlands, mangrove and protected areas, ancestral domains, civil and military reservations.

Caraga Region’s target in 2011was to plant trees in 1,272 hectares in five provinces: of Agusan del Norte, (145 ha.), Agusan del Sur (550 ha.), Surigao del Sur (410 ha.), Surigao del Norte (147 ha.) and the Dinagat Islands (20 ha.)

By the end of 2011, the region was able to plant trees in 1,300 hectares of denuded areas.

In support of this endeavour, the different nursery centers of the Region produced a total of 746,312 seedlings, including 182,669 for fruit trees, and 454,350 for forest and mangrove.

Mangrove seedlings were also planted at the coastline covering a total of 60 hectares in Tagaanan, Tubajon in Surigao del Norte; Lumbucan in Butuan City, Punta, Nasipit, Magallanes and Cabadbaran in Agusan del Norte; Barangay Sibaroy, Bislig, San Agustin, Bayabas,Carmen, Carasscal, Madrid, Lanuza and Cantillan in Surigao del Sur which are being managed and supervised by the local officials, private organizations , women organization, the Bantay Dagat and fisherfolk.

On February 2, 2011, President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Executive Order No.23 imposing a total log ban in natural and residual forest. The said Order also prohibited the DENR from issuing and renewing contracts and tree cutting permits in all natural and residual forest. The ban, however, allowed tree cutting associated with cultural practices pursuant to IPRA law but this is subject to strict compliance with the DENR guidelines.

DENR Secretary Ramon JP Paje then organized the Environmental Law Enforcement Task Force Pagbabago led by a retired Maj. Gen.Renato P. Miranda . During the initial operation, the task force confiscated 2,300 pieces of illegal logs in several tributaries of Agusan River particularly in San Luis, Talacogon towards Loreto in Agusan del Sur. The operation has been sustained thereafter.

According to RED Sibbaluca “all eyes” are focused on the Caraga Region in regards to the anti-illegal logging operations considering that the region contributes about 90 percent of total confiscation nationwide.

As of December 2011, DENR records show that a total of 4,132 cubic meters of illegal logs and 315,567.75 board feet (747.45 cu.m) of flitches and lumber have been confiscated by the task force during its 48 weeks operations in 2011. In 2010, the anti-illegal logging operation netted only 11,687.74 cu.m. of confiscated forest products.

A total of 1,994,360.32 board ft. of lumber materials from confiscated products have been donated by the DENR to the Department of Education through the Technical Skills and Development Authority (TESDA ) Agusan del Sur School of Arts and Trade in Prosperidad, Agusan del Sur. More than 10,000 arm chairs for elementary pupils have been manufactured by the TESDA as of November 2011 which will be sent to the different public schools in the country.

The DENR is still awaiting the nod of the DepEd for the turn-over of more than 7,242 cubic meters of confiscated forest products which are slowly deteriorating due to exposure to natural elements at the different DENR-authorized depository sites in the region.

The other sectors of DENR 13 have their respective accomplishments in 2011 include: 1) The Land Management Services headed by Regional Technical Director Atty. Paquito Rosal reported that a total of 6,697 residential free patents and 6,778 patents have been issued under the regular fund and 8,501 patents have been issued under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program under the “Handog Titulo ng Pangulo” program;

2) The Forestry Sector headed by RTD Musa Saruang

reported that it conducted watershed rehabilitation assessment covering 30 kilometers at the Mt. Magdiwata , San Francisco, Agusan del Sur and at Wawa Watershed covering 57,225 hectares in Bayugan and part of Agusan del Norte;

3) A total of 567 kilometers of forestland boundary lines have been assessed last year generating about 136 jobs;

4) The Ecosystem Research and Development under RTD Virgilio dela Cruz conducted rehabilitation of mangrove area of 60 hectares. It also produced 11,538 pieces of seedlings for the National Greening Program.

Programs for 2012

According to RED Sibbaluca, the major programs of DENR 13 for this year will focused on the implementation of the Philippine Clean Air Act, Philippine Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

The DENR will likewise continue the reinforcement of EO 23. The boundaries of the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary shall also be demarcated to protect the endangered mamal and bird species in the area.

It shall also formulate 12 forest-land use plans, intensify the protection an development of established Protected Area such as Siargao Islands Protected Landscape and Seascape, and the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary; intensify the implementation of Integrated Coastal Management Program pursuant to EO 533; establish an operation center for the NGP, issuance of 6,627 patents for residential under the Residential Free Patent Act 10023 and 8,500 patents under CARP among other major programs. (DENR-13/PIA-Caraga)

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