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Cimatu orders total crackdown on illegal logging, mining in Mindanao

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By Mike U. Crismundo

Butuan City – All field officers of the Provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs, CENROs) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were ordered, Tuesday, to all stop illegal mining and illegal logging operations in Mindanao.

The PENROs and CENROs were also directed to arrest all violators of the mining and forestry laws, rules and regulations and charge them in court.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu also ordered the PENRO and CENRO to submit the list of reported alleged illegal logging operations, and those engaged in destructive mining in their respective areas of jurisdictions for immediate action.

The DENR is double checking information that there are more than 80 areas where there is illegal logging, and 42 areas where small-scale mining are being undertaken in various parts of Mindanao.

The agency is hoping for the help of stakeholders and concerned citizens so that these will be properly addressed, while also hoping the support of all law enforcement agencies and even local government units, it was learned.

“As of this date, field officials are finalizing moves to monitor the operations of the mining companies operating in their area of jurisdictions in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands and Agusan del Norte,” Herzon F. Gallego, chief of the Regional Public Affairs Office (RPAO) of the DENR 13 told The Manila Bulletin on Tuesday.

He said the DENR secretary already instructed the PENROs and CENROs to personally visit the area of operations of these mining companies to see to it they are not polluting the coastlines and agricultural areas surrounding the mine operations.

“The Environment and Management Bureau (EMB) and Mines Geo-Sciences Bureau (MGB) have hired additional personnel to be posted in the PENRO and CENRO offices with active mining activities to augment the personnel in the operation,” the region’s DENR 13 RPAO chief said.

“The DENR 13 regional office has also hired lawyers for the CENRO offices to work on the processing and filing of environmental cases in court immediately so that violators would be meted with penalties and imprisonment for the environmental crimes that they have made, especially illegal logging and illegal mining operations,” Gallego said.

The action plan by the DENR central office against all forms of illegal logging and illegal mining operations is an effort to avert any catastrophic incidents that might erupt particularly flood, he added.

Last February 17, Bishop NereoOdchimar, former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), issued a pastoral letter calling for the department to conduct immediate and independent investigation into the floodings in various parts in Mindanao.

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