December 6, 2023
HOT LUMBERS — Close to P10,000 worth of illegally sawn pine lumbers were confiscated by police operatives and personnel of the Community Environment and Natural Resources-Sabangan at Sitio Boundary, Sinto, Bauko, Mountain Province during an intensified campaign in relation to Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Reform Code. — Contributed photo

Concerned agencies have intensified efforts to combat illegal logging in Mountain Province.

Data from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) Sabangan showed a sharp increase in illegal logging apprehensions in the province for the first semester of 2023.

According to Cenro-Sabangan, 18 cases of illegal logging apprehensions have been reported in the first semester of 2023. Last year, 24 cases were reported, which authorities claim as an indication that the number illegal logging in Mountain Province can exceed last year’s count.

The municipality with the highest recorded number of apprehensions is Bauko, with 12 cases reported in 2022 and nine cases in the first semester of 2023.

Most of the apprehensions occurred in Barangay Bagnen due to its extensive boundaries with Tadian, Sagada, and Bauko.

Bauko Municipal Police Station Acting Chief Denio G. Pacio said the police strengthened their patrolling and collaboration with stakeholders to address the concern.

The Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (Menro), Cenro, barangays, local government units, and the Municipal Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force are working together to address the issue.

To enhance forest surveillance, Allan P. Compas, a forester from Cenro Sabangan said the use of drone technology has been instrumental in the battle against illegal logging.

The drones provide valuable aerial perspectives, aiding in identifying illegal logging activities and capturing evidence.

Currently, Cenro-Sabangan has four drones, primarily used for special cases and suspected instances of massive-scale logging.

Compas also emphasized the vital role played by bantay gubat personnel, forest rangers, deputized individuals, and other dedicated volunteers in intensifying patrol efforts.

Their presence has significantly contributed to monitoring and protecting the forested areas, helping to detect illegal logging activities.

Despite the collective efforts of stakeholders, the records continue to indicate a persistent trend of apprehensions related to tree cutting, which greatly contributes sto deforestation in Mountain Province.

Pacio underscored the importance of adhering to existing ordinances and laws.

He emphasized that Mountain Province is currently under a total log ban and warned the public about the penalties associated with illegal cutting and logging activities. – Emily B. Paulino