Manly M. Ugalde / Correspondent
Tuesday, 07 February 2012
LEGAZPI CITY—Barely two weeks after Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala ordered a total ban on the cutting of coconut trees in Albay, his officials in Bicol want the ban relaxed.
Alcala ordered the total ban during his visit here two weeks ago when he distributed P14 million worth of farm equipment to farmers’ and fishers’ cooperatives, irrigators’ associations and local officials in Albay and Sorsogon.
Albay Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda had asked Alcala for a total ban on the cutting of coconut trees in Albay, saying the uncontrolled cutting could trigger landslides and flooding in low-lying barangays in the province which is prone to heavy monsoon rains.
The agriculture secretary gave his order to Philippine Coconut Authority Administrator Euclides Forbes to stop issuing permits to cut coconut trees effective Jan. 30, 2012.
Coconut lumber is normally used as scaffolding in the construction of houses and buildings as well as in road construction due to the scarcity and high cost of good lumber materials. Coconut lumber has also been used by local residents in building houses.
But local coconut-lumber dealers said that many residents would lose their job if the total ban is enforced.
PCA Regional Director Eduardo Allorde said those who have cutting permits might not be affected by the ban. He said he will ask for exemption on the ban and that only those with existing permits would be allowed to cut on condition that only aged coconut trees and those affected with the disease known as cadang-cadang will be cut. He said trees cut need to be replaced with new trees.
The continued cutting of trees was also noted in the nearby provinces of Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Catanduanes.
A source told the BusinessMirror that some coconut lumber found in Albay also comes from other provinces.
Allorde said the cutting ban imposed by the DA was only for Albay. However, the cutting permit issued in other Bicol provinces are limited to the cutting of unproductive, aged trees and those afflicted with the cadang-cadang disease.