Forests in the country are in crisis as illegal loggers continue their illegal activities because they are not afraid of forest rangers, President Rodrigo Duterte said, adding that these illegal loggers are being protected by local terrorists.
In his speech Thursday night, Duterte said the New People’s Army is protecting illegal loggers in exchange for money.
‘They are not afraid of forest guards. The NPA rebels are protecting them. The NPA is there. They are looking after those involved in illegal logging operations,” he said.
The President directed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to coordinate with military, police and concerned government agencies to stop the illegal logging.
“The NPA guerillas would do everything to help illegal loggers for them to collect money. Do you think the NPA are doing something for the country? My God, they have done nothing,” he said.
He also said that the communist rebels are killing people and extorting money from everybody from all sources.
“That’s why they are not afraid, because of it,” he said.
Duterte ordered Cimatu to make sure that the forests are “really guarded and the trees are allowed to bloom.”
The president also issued a stern warning to those who will go against the government by continuing their illegal logging operations.
“ I know your business. Do not target the protected areas. They are planting trees and yet, you will try to conduct operations there,” Duterte said.
He said illegal logging is having a devastating impact on the country’s forests because of deforestation, the loss of biodiversity.
“This creates social conflict with indigenous and local populations and leads to violence, crime and human rights abuses, he added.