‘Extraction of pine tree resins in Bukidnon illegal, unsustainable’

Extraction of Benguet pine tree resin in Can-ayan, Malaybalay City| Walter Balane/Bukidnon News.Net

Extraction of Benguet pine tree resin in Can-ayan, Malaybalay City| Walter Balane/Bukidnon News.Net

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News.Net/07 February) Even if the Bukidnon Forest Inc. is a government-owned and controlled corporation, a project of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Natural Resources Development Corporation, it is not exempted from obtaining a permit to allow extraction of pine tree resins within its area, Dr. Felix Mirasol, DENR-Bukidnon chief told Bukidnon News.Net Thursday.

“They need to obtain a permit (before extraction). Now it’s illegal. That’s why we had been reminding them to get a permit,” he added.

Mirasol said despite being asked to submit requirements for a permit to extract, BFI refused and still managed to extract and transport resins.

In his notes furnished to this reporter, Mirasol stressed their fear of being accused of being “remiss of our function” due to the continued refusal of BFI to document their oleoresin extraction.

“This happens out of courtesy to its (BFI) President who our Undersecretary and it (BFI) is being a DENR-NRDC (Natural Resources Development Corporation) project.

Ernesto Adobo, Jr. DENR undersecretary is also the president of BFI, holder of a 38,000-hectare area covered by a 25-year Industrial Forest Management Agreement due to expire in 2016.

Mirasol said they have tried to stop the extraction of pine tree resins because it is not part of the annual operation plan of BFI in 2012 and they have no extraction permit.

He said this is what Reynaldo Abordo, BFI general manager, tell DENR officials every time they reminded BFI about the required permit and documentation of their extraction operations.

When DENR-Bukidnon held about 500 sacks of resins on January 30, Mirasol said Adobo called him allegedly questioning his decision. Adobo did not respond to a text message requesting for a telephone interview on the issue.

According to a report obtained by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, Luda Chemicals Inc, BFI’s contractor for the extraction of pine tree resins, has already extracted a total of 86.5 tons of resins from April to November 2012.

Mirasol said aside from being illegal, the extraction is also not sustainable.

He cited published studies that the practice of oleoresin extraction in Benguet has proven to be unsustainable as few tappers followed regulations closely.

He added that this results in over tapping of trees.

Mirasol said it also posed fire threat as resin, a combustible material; continue to emerge from the scar of the bark. He said it easily catches fire.

He added that tappers seldom realized the desired profits and covered area due to excessive rain brought by climate change.

“By the early 1980s, the oleoresin industry lay in ruins according to the publish paper,” he added.

Mirasol said Bukidnon pine trees “is in the verge of being wiped out if there is no serious thought about the present oleoresin extraction.”

He vowed to continue holding apprehended resin “until such time that appropriate authority is issued to BFI” to ensure that appropriate safeguard is taken.

Abordo told Bukidnon News via telephone Thursday that LCI have already suspended extraction “pending the matter at hand.”

He said last week they have already submitted requirements for a permit but its annual operation plan, which is a requisite, is still pending.

He stressed that from the start they have already “went through the process” with authority even from the DENR Sec. Ramon Paje. He cited that they have even presented the project to the provincial board.

But board member Nemesio Beltran Jr, who passed a resolution urging President Aquino to cancel BFI’s IMFA and contract with LCI, denied they have given any authority. He said BFI allegedly misled them.

“They were succinctly admonished not to proceed without the go-signal of the SP,” he added.

Abordo added that the permit was not required when they started.

He said the transaction is a private contract between BFI and a private enterprise.

“We have assumed that it was within the authority of BFI (to engage in that transaction), he added.

Mirasol said they stopped the shipment of the resins from Bukidnon to Davao but gave way when told the operation had clearance from DENR national office.

He added that in the first two shipments it was understandable to be within the “exploratory” stage.

“But four shipments? That’s no longer experimental,” he added.

BFI and LCI told the Bukidnon Sangguniang Panlalawigan in a hearing in May 2012 that extraction will be “exploratory.”

Abordo said the “exploratory” nature of the transaction covers the viability or feasibility of the business.

According to the one-year memorandum of agreement, which Abordo signed on September 21, 2012, with Ming Xing Huang, LCI general manager, the latter will undertake to harvest the sap of the pine trees within BFI’s area in order to “conduct a study on the viability and marketability of such sap and its end products”.

The MOA also cited that Abordo said they will be able to address the issues during the administrative deliberation the DENR set on February 13. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net)