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Priest decries logging operations

Ban on tree-felling no brake on illegal logging

Priest decries logging operations
A resident holds a placard outside the Freeport zone in Aurora province where illegal logging reportedly continues (Photo courtesy of Anti-Apeco Task Force)
D’Jay Lazaro, Manila

February 23, 2011

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The parish priest of a remote town in the northern Philippines has slammed what he describes as the rampant cutting of trees in defiance of  a national  logging ban. "The cutting of trees continues.... Why can't authorities stop it?" asked Father Jose Francisco Talaban, parish priest of Nuestra Señora de la Salvacion in the village of Bianoan, Casiguran,  in Aurora province. The priest has joined indigenous groups in calling on Environment Secretary Ramon Paje to ensure "full and speedy implementation" of the logging ban introduced by President Aquino III. Father Talaban said two logging concessionaires continue to cut trees in the forests around the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone Freeport. Despite the logging ban an average of three trucks containing large amounts of logs leave the area each day he said. "They've reduced the number of trees they cut but they continue cutting," Father Talaban said. Residents still hear the roar of chainsaws from the forest, he added. The priest called on federal environmental officials to keep an eye on local officials whom he accused of "turning a blind eye" to the alleged illegal logging operations in the province. PM13410.1642

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