Illegal logging problem gets not much attention

Illegal logging is a problem that may be eluding the radar as it is not getting much attention from local authorities.

While there are reports of abandoned lumber, news about the prosecution of alleged illegal loggers is wanting.

There was one report about possible illegal logging filed by the police last week.

On Wednesday, a concerned citizen alerted San Miguel police about assorted pieces of lumber abandoned.

The police were able to recover 26 pieces of lumber known locally as Antopolo measuring two by two by 10 and 11 pieces of lumber measuring two by two by 8.

The estimated volume of the confiscated items measured about 158.6 board feet.

The lumber will eventually turn over to the proper authorities, said the police.

As of this writing, the police have no clue on the identity of the suspected illegal loggers.

News like this is something that comes far in between.

Aside from the failure to identify the culprits, making matters worse the trees have been killed already, and nothing can be done to get them back to the forest.

The denudation of the province’s trees might be happening right under our noses, but no one knows about it.

Just this week, the Tribune team saw 12-wheeler trucks of lumber in the town of Sikatuna, particularly along Sikatuna-Sevilla Road.

It is difficult to ascertain whether these have the legal documents to prove they have the authority to cut trees.

Accosting such personalities without authority might be risky and could only lead to bigger problems.

There is a need for the community to become vigilant in reporting potential illegal logging activities, since denuding the forest accounts for the widespread flooding, as what occurred last week in several areas in the province, particularly in Loboc town.

 

MEDIA’S ROLE

The media is known as the watchdog and has been known to pinpoint some issues that turned out to be controversial.

As the whistleblowers, media’s role in ensuring environmental laws are observed well.

Tribune has contributed to the effort in preserving the environment.

Back in 2018, the Tribune exposed what could be the massacre of trees in San Pascual, Ubay.

Tribune was the first media entity to raise the specter of environmental catastrophe with some indigenous trees allegedly cut without permission from relevant government agencies.

The news item read more than 100 trees, most of the hardwood, and part of the reforestation program of the government allegedly were taken down.

In an interview with Samuel Racho of the Bohol Environment Protection Office, he confirmed, upon inspection by his team. Indeed there were trees taken down near a river, which is in violation of environmental laws and regulations.

Since then, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office have taken the cudgels to file a case against the alleged perpetrators of the environmental crime.

News like the one in Ubay comes far in between because there might not be much focus given to the possible rape of our forests.

There is a visible lack of attention and push from relevant agencies to get incentives in reporting of potential violations of environmental law.

 

CHATTO’S RESPONSE

Gov. Edgar Chatto said he is aware of the media’s role in being a watchdog especially in keeping tabs with environmental law violations.

He knows the media have contributed immensely to keeping tabs on this problem.

The governor said he too is concerned about the environment and calls the attention of relevant agencies.

He always inquires whether a particular site has the necessary permits needed to operate.

Chatto said community involvement is key in reporting about environmental law violations not just in the area of peace and order.

Guarding the environment is everyone’s business.

He urged the public to report to the authorities via text message or to attach photos to the messages.

He assured the public the provincial government would act swiftly on reports about environmental law violations.

The province is keen on the environment since it has been posturing as an eco-tourism destination.

Any news about environmental destruction can be detrimental to the image of the province.  (Dave Albarado)

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