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Alarm raised over Malaysia-Palawan illegal logging trade
Publication Date : 23-06-2014
The provincial government of Palawan in the Philippines has raised the alarm over the rampant illegal logging trade between Malaysia and this province, noting that Malaysian authorities were allegedly freely allowing illegal logs to enter Malaysia through the town of Kudat in Sabah, which is on the northern tip of Borneo Island.
Gov. Jose Chaves Alvarez ordered local authorities to convene and coordinate with civil society groups doing enforcement efforts and for them to pool resources to end the illegal trade, as it has been significantly affecting the remaining forest areas of southern Palawan, said provincial budget consultant Cesar Ventura in an interview on Saturday.
Ventura said Alvarez was reacting to a report by Supt. David Martinez, the provincial police director, who personally witnessed on June 20 the unloading of logs and rattan from southern Palawan on the port of Kudat.
Ventura said Martinez was in Kudat for a different purpose when he chanced upon the unloading of logs and rattan on the town’s port and immediately reported the matter to the governor via e-mail.
It was still unclear what Martinez was doing in Malaysia.
In his letter to the governor, Martinez said he found out from the port of Kudat that the shipment came from Palawan.
He informed Alvarez that the record from the port of Kudat showed that in January this year, 27 motor launches had unloaded logs coming from southern Palawan and that another 12 motor launches unloaded the same cargo in Kudat this month.
“An average-size motor launch can carry 100 pieces of logs, and a big motor launch has a capacity of 200 pieces of logs,” said Martinez in his report to Alvarez, a copy of which was furnished the Inquirer by Ventura.
Ventura said they were surprised to learn that illegal logs coming from Palawan were openly being dumped and sold to buyers in Kudat.
“In Kudat Port, they are not confiscating these logs and rattan as long as they pay the custom duties and taxes,” Ventura said, quoting information from Martinez.
The report of the illegal log shipment came just as the Philippine and Malaysian governments have been working jointly to establish the BIMP-EAGA trade route in the East Asian region that includes, in part, the opening of port facilities in Brooke’s Point in southern Palawan and Kudat in Sabah, Malaysia.
The East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) is a subregional economic cooperation initiative in Southeast Asia that involves four Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) member-countries, namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.