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Piñol wants end to logging ops in Zamboanga Peninsula: Grabe ang baha dahil walang gubat

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Department of Agriculture (DA) Sec. Emmanuel Piñol disclosed he will ask President Rodrigo Duterte to put a total stop to logging operations here in the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Piñol issued the statement after he inspected Friday the areas ravaged by Tropical Storm “Vinta”..

“I, as secretary of agriculture, is blaming the logging operations for the massive agricultural damage in the towns Sirawai, Siocon, Sibuco, and Baliguian (in Zamboanga del Norte province) and the deaths in the mentioned towns,” Piñol said in a press conference.

Piñol said farms were covered with mud as the soil eroded from the mountains during the storm since the forest have been denuded.

“I don’t understand why there is an ongoing logging operation in the mountains of Zamboanga when there is a total log ban,” he added.

He noted that the total logging ban implemented during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Aroyo is still in effect.

He said he will report during the Cabinet meeting on Monday and request the President to stop all logging operations here in the region.

He said around 19,000 hectares of forest has been denuded due to logging operations in the town of Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte alone.

Sibuco Mayor Nobideiri Edding revealed the firm engaged in logging operation is even flattening hills for agro forestry particularly planting of oil palm.

Edding said they have been opposing the logging operations since 2004 when he was still a provincial board member, but “our clamor fell on deaf ears.”

“They don’t even pay taxes in our town, so we don’t gain anything from it. So why do we have to allow this people to continue?” Edding said citing the taxes is being paid in Makati by the main office of the logging firm.

He hopes the President will stop the logging operations in Sibuco and in nearby areas of Zamboanga del Norte with the proper representation of Piñol.

“I don’t care if the operations of Dacon doesn’t affect the agriculture since that’s a DENR issue. But since their operations affected agriculture, it destroyed rice farms and killed fishermen, I have to complain,” Piñol added.

Partial data gathered by the DA regional office showed that 3,263 hectares of rice fields with an estimated value of PhP17.7 million were damaged in the province of Zamboanga del Norte. So far, 721 farmers were affected.

In Zamboanga del Sur, the storm had destroyed 51.5 hectares of rice fields worth PhP5.5 million with 597 farmers affected while, 988.55 hectares with PhP155.3 million have been damaged in Zamboanga Sibugay and 491 farmers affected.

He assured the affected farmers and fisherfolks of assistance. (PNA)