Loggers preying on Sierra Madre

MALOLOS CITY, Bulacan - With climate change-related disasters bearing down on this province the past few years, Governor Wilhelmino M. Sy-Alvarado ordered yesterday to go after what he tagged as "a sophisticated group" of illegal loggers behind a total of 5,000 board feet of illegally-cut logs and flitches confiscated by authorities in the Sierra Madre mountain range last Tuesday and Wednesday.

"This (confiscation of logs) is a big catch, but we still have to intensify and improve our strategy against those who are destroying our forest," said the governor, referring to the haul seized in the mountains between Norzagaray in Bulacan and Rodriguez (formerly Montalban) in neighboring Rizal province.

He instructed the Provincial Multi-Sectoral Anti-Illegal Task Force (PAILTF) to go deeper in its investigation into those behind the cutting of logs in the Sierra Madre mountains, particularly in the Angat Dam watershed areas.

PAILTIF was part of the multi-sectoral team that conducted operations against illegal logging in the areas with representatives from the Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO), the National Power Corporation-Angat Watershed Area Team (NPC-AWAT), the Sagip Sierra Madre Environment Society, the Philippine Army, and the Bulacan Police Provincial Office (PPO).

Alvarado said the fact that the team found sawed and sliced logs in the mountain means that illegal loggers have already set up their operations there and found ways of making the hauling down easier.

"We must step-up our strategies with the cooperation of all concerns not only in Bulacan but also in the neighboring provinces of Rizal and Nueva Ecija. We must protect our watershed because... if we lose the trees, the water supply of Metro Manila will be threatened," he said.

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