‘…Congress has not lifted a finger to pass a law raising the DENR’s enforcement capability.’
THE war against illegal logging is now one of the priorities of the PNP after massive flooding hit Cagayan and Isabela at the height of typhoon Ulysses. Entire cities and towns had to be submerged before the national government finally decided to take action.
Illegal logging has doomed the hills and mountains of Cagayan for five decades now and, yes, the DENR is absolutely inutile to enforce the law. Presidential spokesman Harry Roque admitted the DENR has “limited enforcement,” especially in Cagayan and Isabela.
Certainly, provincial and local officials have long turned a blind eye to indiscriminate tree-cutting and mining due to considerable material benefits. And Congress has not lifted a finger to pass a law raising the DENR’s enforcement capability. The ranks of the undermanned and ill-trained forest rangers are no match to the fully-armed private armies and security escorts of illegal loggers.
Is the PNP thinking of applying the brutality of the drug war against illegal loggers and miners in Cagayan and Isabela? Their brazen defiance of the law was very evident last Saturday in Cagayan when illegal loggers fired at apprehending policemen, wounding the deputy police chief of Penablanca town, Randy Baccay.
Powerful loggers backed by armed groups will make this a real war with the police, who unlike in the lopsided drug war will now face genuine deadly encounters. Highly-paid lawyers and political connections will drag the cases in court while logging workers will enjoy bail.
The PNP has long accepted the fact that the ruling political elite has lorded it over these criminal activities and is protected by syndicates of local officials, fiscals, judges and even its own officers.
Please accept my apology for some inaccuracies in my column Monday of last week, specifically on the emergency landing of a passenger plane on the Hudson River in New York. I wrote about two soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq with hands clasped in prayer as the pilot made the miraculous landing after a bird strike had disabled both engines. There was only one, and not two, soldier on the plane. The book “Psalm 91: God’s Shield of Protection” by Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angela Ruth Schum gives the actual account: “Andrew Gray has recently returned from his second tour in Afghanistan – one of those long, fifteen-month stints. He had served twelve months in Afghanistan before that. During each tour his mother had spent many hours praying Psalm 91 protection over him on a daily basis.
Returning from a trip in New York City for the birthday of his fiancée, Stephanie, Gray found themselves on that flight that had gone down on the river. God had been all over the flight – placing Chesley Sullenberger at the helm of the plane, keeping the usually busy Hudson clear of ferries, barges and boats and keeping the plane in one piece long enough for all the 155 passengers to be rescued.”