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Stop coco logging, execs told.

Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Avelino Andal has a warning to the agency's provincial and regional heads: Stop coconut logging or face transfer.

Andal, in a news conference here last week, said coconut logging remained rampant in several areas in the country, including Eastern Visayas region where at least 13 million coconut trees were destroyed when Supertyphoon 'Yolanda' (international name: Haiyan) hit in 2013.

Andal, however, did not cite figures on the volume of coconut trees felled and turned into lumber in the country, except saying it ranged from 'minimal to worse' in coconut-producing provinces.

'I told them of movement of people. For those areas where coco logging continues, I have already decided that if they could not get rid of [the problem], they would be transferred to provinces where there are no coconut [trees],' Andal said.

He said he was 'disappointed' that some did not follow the provisions of Republic Act No. 8048 (Coconut Preservation Act of 1995), which prohibits the cutting of coconut trees.

Andal recently issued an order for a moratorium on the cutting of coconut trees unless necessary. Among the exceptions are coconut trees posing danger to one's life or property in the event of a natural calamity, or if these would be affected by a road widening project.

The PCA, on Jan. 3, implemented the suspension of the cutting of coconut trees. This will last until the end of March while the agency reviews the implementing rules of RA 10593, which amends RA 8048.

Andal, in a recent interview in Lucena City, said the PCA had to impose a moratorium because RA 10593 was not being strictly enforced.

The temporary cutting ban exempted Basilan province and Isabela City, where an infestation of coconut scale insect or cocolisap had been reported.

RA 10593 allows cutting when the tree is 'severely disease-infested and beyond rehabilitation' or was 'severely damaged' by typhoon or lightning. But like RA 8048, RA 10593 requires a permit from the PCA to cut trees.

'Cutting coconut trees is a criminal offense. It's like killing a human being,' he said.

Coconut trees are protected by law because it usually takes five to seven years before a tree bears fruits, he said.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 31, 2017
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