Saturday Aug, 24 2019 09:17:39 PM

Task force intensifies protection of Basilan forests

Climate Change/Environment • 09:30 AM Sat Jul 13, 2019
John M. Unson
The tropical rainforests in the Sampinit Complex in Basilan. (John Unson) 

ISABELA CITY --- The Basilan Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force will intensify its crackdown on poaching of forest products in tropical timberlands in the province.

The task force is comprised of representatives from the Army’s 104th Brigade, whose units are deployed in different towns in Basilan, from the provincial police office and the environment and natural resources department.

Senior police and military officials told reporters Saturday Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman ordered them to guard tightly against cutting of trees in watershed areas and in forested hinterlands during a meeting at the provincial capitol here Thursday.

From Basilan's highland watersheds spring the rivers flowing along farming enclaves in the lowlands.

Radio station dxNO here reported that Salliman wants police and military personnel guarding checkpoints to intercept timbers smuggled from forests in the province.

The inter-agency task force is operating under the ministerial control of Salliman, who is also chairman of the provincial peace and order council.

Among the forests that Salliman wants protected as wildlife sanctuary are those in the surroundings of Basilan’s Sampinit Complex in the center of the province.

The Sampinit Complex, a potential eco-tourism site, is now traversed by a concrete “Transcentral Road” interconnecting Barangays Tumahubong in Sumisip and Mahayahay in Maluso to Santa Clara area in Lamitan City, the capital of Basilan.

The thoroughfare that straddes through abandoned former bastions of the Abu Sayyaf in the Sampinit Complex, now secured by the military, is a common high-ticket project of the Basilan provincial government and the now defunct executive department of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

In an emailed statement, Brig. Gen. Marni Marcos of the Regional Police Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Saturday units of PRO-BARMM in Basilan will extensively support the forest-protection efforts of the task force and will even help build airtight cases against the arrested violators of forestry laws.


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