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Illegal logging tragedy claims life in Laak, Davao de Oro

AN ILLEGAL logging operation ended in a fatal accident that killed a truck helper at Binasbas Bridge in Barangay Binasbas, Laak, Davao de Oro in the early morning of Monday, May 20.

Reports from residents in the area say that troops belonging to the 60th Infantry Battalion (60IB), 1001st Infantry Brigade, encountered a dump truck suspected of carrying illegally cut lumber. 

Despite being signaled by soldiers to stop for inspection, the dump truck’s unidentified driver recklessly attempted to bypass the checkpoint, causing a devastating vehicular accident that resulted in the death of one Jay Redondo. 

Redondo was on board the truck, acting as a helper.

For decades, the illegal loggers have been operating without restraint in the provinces of Davao and Agusan and are one of the main perpetrators of forest denudation and biodiversity loss, the Army statement said.

Arian Jane O. Ramos, president of Kalinaw SEMR, denounced the attempt to continue illegal logging in Davao Region.

 “It is infuriating that it’s only been four months since the unfortunate landslide in Barangay Masara in nearby Maco town, and yet we find out that illegal logging operations continue to flourish in the region,” she said.

In its outreach activity for affected communities of the Masara landslides earlier this month, Kalinaw SEMR interviewed several victims who attributed the tragedy to decades of mining and illegal logging activities.

“The adverse effects of these environmentally destructive activities all in the name of profit are catching up on us. Unless our government finds the political will to earnestly crack down on illegal logging, the Masara landslide is sure to be just a preface to a series of other future tragedies,” Ramos said.

Ramos also stressed the importance of thoroughly stamping out illegal logging in our sustainable campaign of keeping our provinces insurgency-free. 

Not a few former rebels have divulged that schemes such as illegal logging have become one of the main lifebloods of the CPP-NPA-NDFP, providing their organizations with the means to conduct their atrocious activities.

“For years, the CPP-NPA-NDFP in Southern Mindanao alone have siphoned off tens of millions in protection money by allowing these illegal logging activities to proliferate. It has always been their two-faced tactic of giving the impression of protecting the environment, while at the same time receiving dirty money from activities that destroy the environment to begin with.”

Despite the strides made through collaborative endeavors to combat illegal logging in certain areas of the Davao Region, it’s disheartening to note that some illicit loggers have resorted to abandoning traditional methods of log transportation.

 Instead, they’ve devised innovative tactics, including disguising logs with sand coverings, or exploiting permits for planted species, to evade detection and continue their harmful activities.

Meanwhile, Kalinaw SEMR commended the military for its serious campaign of protecting the environment and its troops for keeping with their battalion’s efforts against illegal logging.

On April 24, 2024, the military signed a Memorandum of Partnership (MOPA) with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of Davao del Norte to strengthen their partnership and advocacy towards environmental protection. 

This enhances the collaborative effort involving the 1001st Infantry Brigade, DENR, PENRO, and civilian volunteers in conducting checkpoints and monitoring possible illegal logging activities.

“But this will not suffice,” Ramos continued. 

“An inclusive, sustainable, and collaborative campaign is needed, which involves not only environmental organizations, government agencies, law enforcement authorities, and advocacy groups such as Kalinaw SEMR, but most importantly the local communities of peasants and indigenous peoples. Most importantly, sustainable and alternative socio-economic projects must be immediately granted to the communities whose primary livelihood is cutting and mounting logs for illegal loggers.”

Along this line, Kalinaw SEMR is one with the military in raising awareness to educate stakeholders of the environmental impacts of illegal logging to empower communities in standing against this destructive practice. 


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