By GENALYN D. KABILING
President Duterte has ordered the suspension of logging operations in Zamboanga Peninsula, which has been blamed for the recent flooding in the area.
The directive was issued during a Cabinet meeting last Monday.
“The President also ordered several logging concessions in Zamboanga Peninsula to be suspended. This after he was apprised of the concerns of the indigenous populations that they have been displaced by logging operations of some companies,” Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said during a press conference in Malacañang.
“He also observed that it is widespread logging that is responsible for the flash floods that Mindanao experienced only this month of December with two typhoons,” he added.
An inquiry into the alleged irresponsible logging operations will be conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“He has ordered the suspension without prejudice to the probe. But meanwhile, it should be suspended,” Roque said.
Roque however, did not identify any logging company whose operations have been ordered suspended by the President.
Earlier, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol revealed the President ordered the closure of SODACO Agricultural Corporation’s logging operations in Zamboanga Peninsula.
Piñol, in a Facebook post, said the President directed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to implement the closure after watching a short video of the denuded portion of the Zamboanga mountain range.
“Roy, ipasara mo ‘yan. Hindi naman maghihirap ‘yan si Consunji kasi oligarch na ‘yan,” Piñol quoted the president as saying.
Piñol noted that SODACO has a 60,000-hectare concession under the Integrated Social Forestry (ISF) of the Department Of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The company has been blamed for the flash floods and mudslides that killed several people and destroyed agricultural lands in Zamboanga del Norte during the onslaught of typhoon Vinta last December.