The Palawan NGO Network, Inc., (PNNI) has blamed the co-management memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the provincial government for the reported continuing illegal logging activities in the towns of El Nido and San Vicente.
In two letter-complaints, PNNI executive director Atty. Robert Chan said the changes in the landscape and the disappearance of big trees in the areas can be attributed to the “business-oriented governance” framework of the co-management arrangement.
“We will always go back to the PINRMP (Palawan Integrated Natural Resources Management Project) plan of the co-management MOA between the DENR and the governor (Jose Alvarez) that promotes tourism, plantations and housing for tribal people to dispossess them of their lands,” he said.
The co-management of natural resources is institutionalized by virtue of Joint DENR-Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Memorandum Circular Nos. 1998-01 and 2003-01, which provided the mechanisms for the shared responsibility of managing forests and forest lands between the DENR, DILG, and the Local Government Unit (LGU).
PNNI filed two letter complaints before the Palawan Council of Sustainable Development (PCSD) on the discovery of logging activities for construction of tourist cottages.
The first letter was filed on December 4 after two chainsaws were confiscated by PNNI after the discovery at the fully operational logging site within the forest of Sitio Pinagkulitan, Barangay Mabini, El Nido.
The network para-enforcers found the two camps with about a dozen people each, working on felling and slicing hardwood for tourist cottages business and Chan stated that ‘undisciplined tourism industry gone wild’.
“From the GIS (Geographic Information System) plotting of points using the very own shapefiles of the PCSD Staff, the cutting area falls within the restricted zone of the ECAN (Annex B ). It similarly falls within the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ibid),” Chan said.
PNNI also noted the rampant illegal logging activities in Barangay Alimanguhan, San Vicente. Chan claimed that illegal logging has been happening in the restricted zone, and claimed that the PCSD, DENR, and Bantay Palawan “are nowhere to be found.”
PNNI said that unlike in the town of El Nido, it took so much time for them to get clearance from the military detachment in the area of San Vicente.
“Sadly, there are days we don’t get the chainsaws. Admittedly, the look-outs get better in a signal-laden area. And bolder, because of the governor’s PINRMP management plan that supports an already erupting tourism industry,” he said.