President Aquino yesterday warned illegal loggers and their cohorts in government, saying his government is serious in putting them behind bars.
In his speech during the 25th anniversary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at Malacañang, the President expressed concern that illegal logging thrives despite the total logging ban.
Without mentioning specific areas or regions, the President said it has come to his attention that some people in government are protecting illegal loggers.
“It seems that some people do not believe we are serious in imposing a total log ban,” the President said.
Aquino said he would not want a repeat of the devastation wrought by typhoon “Sendong,” when hundreds of logs found their way to rivers in Mindanao, proof of the proliferation of illegal logging.
“Since they (illegal loggers) are directly challenges us, I will accept the challenge,” he said in Filipino.
The President ordered the DENR and the Departments of the Interior and Local Government and Justice to intensify their campaign against illegal logging and ensure the conviction of illegal loggers.
“Probably we should also instruct the Bureau of Corrections to prepare additional space so that they can have their vacation there, in case they think I’m joking,” he said, drawing applause from the audience.
The President earlier issued an executive order that imposed a moratorium on logging in natural and residual forests all over the country.
The President also directed the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation to form a joint task force to hunt down and arrest the perpetrators and mastermind in the murder of forest rangers and DENR personnel enforcing environmental laws.
He ordered Executive Secretary Pacquito Ochoa Jr. to set aside P5 million from the Presidential Social Fund and donate it to the foundation that provides financial assistance to the families of DENR personnel killed or disabled in the line of duty.