Green group praises Aquino’s logging ban

But warns graft could still threaten deforestation in Philippines

Green group praises Aquino’s logging ban
President Benigno Aquino III inspects a newly opened water treatment plant in Metro Manila (Photo courtesy of Malacañang) staff, Manila, Philippines

February 4, 2011

Environmental activists have praised Philippine President Benigno Aquino III for issuing a logging moratorium across the country.

“We welcome [the order] which we hope, if genuinely implemented, will stop large commercial logging operations and slow down deforestation,” said Clemente Bautista, coordinator of Kalikasan or the People’s Network for the Environment.

Aquino had been under mounting pressure from environmentalists and the Church to implement a ban on logging and open-pit mining.

“We expect the government to cancel permits and stop the operations of large scale loggers in natural and residual forests,” Bautista said.

Aquino’s presidential order titled “Declaring a Moratorium on the Cutting and Harvesting of Timber in the National and Residual Forests and Creating the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force” fulfilled his promise to victims of recent floods and landslides in several parts of the country.

“It is our obligation to take care of our natural resources. It is our obligation to ensure the safety of our citizens from the effects of La Niña or El Niño or any disaster,” Aquino said.

He yesterday ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to review all existing logging agreements and stop logging companies from cutting trees.

Bautista, however, warned the order does not address another major factor in deforestation -- corruption.

“It still allows logging in ‘plantations’ or areas where trees were planted by commercial loggers. These can be used, exploited and encourage commercial loggers to continue their tree cutting activities,” he said.

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