By ROBIE HALIP
QUEZON CITY ― Ifugao Representative Teddy Brawner Baguilat urged Congress to immediately pass the Forest Conservation and Alternative Mining Bills to prevent a repeat of the Sendong devastation in Mindanao and other areas of the country.
The said bills authored by Baguilat are pending in Congress. They seek to provide a legal framework to stop deforestation and protect the remaining forests of the country.
“Executive Order number 23, which declared a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in natural and residual forests, provides too many exemptions and is susceptible to the interpretation that logging can be allowed in critical watersheds,” Baguilat asserted.
Baguilat added that in the wake of Sendong, where the human and property costs are attributable in part to the effects of logging, a more encompassing moratorium on logging is needed.
“We need this now if we are to save what remains of our forests and stand any chance of preventing another disaster like Sendong,” Baguilat added.
Baguilat noted that the Executive Order also exempts from the moratorium such activities as mining, government projects and projects certified by Malacañang.
“In the Alternative Mining Bill, we propose no-go mining zones which include critical watersheds and key biodiversity areas while the Forest Bill provides a legal mandate to expand forest cover through massive reforestation and better forest protection management involving not just the Department of Environment and Natural Resources but also local government units, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations,” Baguilat explained.
Baguilat added that Sendong, which left thousands homeless and bereaved, wreaked such havoc due in no small part to deforestation and siltation.
These could have been prevented through environmental management sought by the pending bills. # nordis.net