2 environment execs reassigned over Zambo floods

By Rhodina Villanueva and Louise Maureen Simeon

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Former regional director Felix Mirasol was reassigned as Region 10 assistant director, while Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) officer-in-charge (OIC) Geoffrey Zayas was appointed chief of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Liloy.  File

MANILA, Philippines — Two officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Region 9 have been ordered relieved from their posts and reassigned following the flash floods and mudslides in the Zamboanga peninsula during Tropical Storm Vinta brought about by continued logging operations in the area.

Former regional director Felix Mirasol was reassigned as Region 10 assistant director, while Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) officer-in-charge (OIC) Geoffrey Zayas was appointed chief of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Liloy.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu designated Carlito Tuballa as Region 9 OIC director and Salahudin Caing as chief of the DENR’s Zamboanga del Norte PENRO.

Tuballa was assistant regional director for Region 8 prior to his new assignment.

“Enough is enough. It’s not just because of command responsibility. We also want to know if there was negligence among my men,“ Cimatu said.

Yesterday, the official led an aerial inspection of the extent of the damage wrought by private companies operating through the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) that was being blamed for the disaster.

Cimatu said he would not hesitate to file charges against any DENR personnel found involved in illegal activities, conniving with IFMA violators.

“This is not just a warning. We will do it,” he said.

The DENR chief said the reassignment is part of an ongoing reorganization in the department.

He also directed DENR field officers nationwide to be more vigilant and strictly enforce the law against firms not complying with DENR regulations.

Cimatu has ordered a review of the 104 companies to prevent any recurrence of the environmental degradation similar to what happened during Vinta’s onslaught.

Under the IFMA, companies are allowed to establish industrial tree plantations in the area but are restricted from cutting residual trees unless authorized by the department.

Earlier this week, President Duterte ordered the suspension of South Davao Development Co. Inc. (Sodaco) and the Sirawai Plywood and Lumber Corp. (SPLC), both under the Dacon Group of Companies (DGC), with DMCI as mother company.

While several companies have stopped operating, Cimatu said there have been reports of illegal poaching in several IFMA sites.

Of the 104 IFMAs nationwide, 40 were in Luzon, 13 in Visayas and 51 in Mindanao. In Region 9 alone, where the flash floods occurred, 10 IFMAs were issued.

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