ILLEGAL LOGGING IN PARADISE?

STA. ANA, CAGAYAN– A watchdog group here has claimed that there is illegal logging in the world-famous island of Palaui and authorities appear helpless in stopping it or they are in cahoots with those involved (in the illegal activity.)

A protected area several nautical miles off here, Palaui hosted two seasons of the reality show, ‘Survivor USA,’ and has been voted by CNN broadcasting network as owning one of the top ten beaches in the world.

Rafael Liquigan, who manages the website “Sta. Ana, Cagayan Kontra Korap na Opisyal at Mga Maninira ng Kalikasan,” said that a task force supposedly run by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines did not have sufficient funds to arrest illegal loggers in the island.

The secret group has 4463 active members.

Another resident alleged that chainsaws with silencers and other equipment have been monitored to have done the cutting of trees by locals under the employ of unscrupulous individuals.

In a comment at the website, a certain DV Brian Moran said that illegal logging could not be stopped because those who are responsible for halting it are paid hush money. He did not elaborate.

Several logs cut into lumber sizes have been confiscated but mysteriously disappeared from the pier here, according to a post from
a Facebook account.

Vice-Mayor Pinky Salvanera- Rodriquez said that illegal logging was like drugs because businessmen “who do this thing are like octopus with arms” that reach everywhere.

Rodriguez assured residents that her office would do its best to do something about the illegal activity, saying they would talk to
concerned agencies like the regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

She said that the townspeople has shifted to the illegal livelihood because it “brings easy money.’

But Rodriguez said she was resting her case because she was giving her utmost respect to proper authorities to do the job of eradicating this business, and urged the people to stay vigilant.

In his latest website post, Liguigan alleged that illegal logging is still rampant not only in Palaui, but in the entire municipality of
Sta. Ana.

The destruction of the forest covers in Palaui and in the municipality goes on, according to Liquigan. “There is conspiracy among concerned agencies, political authorities and businessmen,” he said.

Palaui and the entire town of Sta. Ana, a second-class municipality in Northern Cagayan, are major components of the Cagayan Special Economic Zone and Freeport.

Now being developed as a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial and recreational center, CSEZF hosts resorts and several
casinos now operating in the area. GUERRERO COLOMA/northboundasia.com