Philippines: Corrupt gov failure to stop illegal logging brings calls for local control

Good forest governance requires accountability and transparency. If a
government purports to to work to stop illegal loggging, but instead
is found to be full of corruption and systemic bribery how can local
control be more effective at stopping illegal logging?

TRENTO – Due to dismal failure in government’s anti-illegal logging
campaign, a number of local government executives in Caraga Region are
now pushing for localization of some of DENR’s functions like forest
protection and reforestation.

Trento Mayor Irenea Hitgano claimed many
of her colleagues particularly members of the Municipal Mayor’s League
of Caraga Region also wanted to be given sole authority to file
illegal logging cases before courts against not only illegal loggers
and log smugglers but also to erring DENR officials and personnel.
“The reason why government campaign against illegal logging miserably
failed because corruption exist and there is no single erring DENR
field workers and officials who are supposedly in the forefront of the
campaign jailed”, Mayor Hitgano said. Hitgano who is a LMMP official
in the region told this writer in an interview in her house in the
presence of local religious, barangay leaders and her husband, former
Trento Mayor Escolastico Hitgano, blamed blatant corruption practiced
by some law enforcers particularly those assigned in checkpoints along
national highways were truckloads of illegal cut logs passed. Bunawan,
Agusan del Sur Mayor Gilbert Elorde in a separate, earlier interview
with thsi writer at his office at the Bunawan Municipal Hall also
shared same sentiments of other Mayors in Caraga Region saying the
DENR is all to be blamed in the dismal failure to protect Caraga
Region’s fast dwindling forest resources. “DENR is the lead agency,
we, as local government unit, only play supporting role. There is also
a need to really discipline the law enforcement branch of the
government at the same time give incentives to those who are
functioning well”, says Mayor Elorde who is Vice President of the
League of the Municipal Mayors of Mindanao. Both Elorde and HItgano
admitted that continuing illegal logging activities in the region in
the past have deprived cash strapped Philippine Government from
collection of millions of pesos worth of revenues which are tantamount
to economic sabotage. “DENR personnel and officials should have been
jailed because economic sabotaged is a heinous criminal and
administrative offense but no one was even facing charges thus there
is a need for a genuine and thorough lifestyle check against these
officials”, former Mayor Escolastico Hitgano said. Three former
illegal loggers who quit due to what they claimed as wanton corruption
in the trade claimed forest products monitoring stations which are
supposed to implement laws by checking papers and documentations of
transported logs are mere cash points not checkpoints.

— Posted to via gmail to posterous and
also to

Posted via email from Deane’s posterous

Comments (1)

jmAugust 9th, 2009 at 7:24 pm

there so greedy!!

why they did not think of us?
why did they always think of themselves!!

Leave a comment

Your comment