Government efforts to protect natural resources in Northern Luzon have been enhanced following the interregional convergence agreement signed by the environment chiefs of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
 
On February 4, Regional Executive Directors Crizaldy Barcelo of Region 1, Gwendolyn Bambalan of Region 2 and Ralph Pablo of CAR inked the tripartite agreement in San Fernando City, La Union.
 
The convergence will unify and streamline efforts and resources of the three regions toward better protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources in North Luzon.
 
Director Bambalan said the signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA) is very significant for Region 2 considering the massive flooding that hit Isabela and Cagayan in November last year.
 
"This really manifests our commitment to protect our forest and forest resources," the DENR Cagayan Valley chief said as she emphasized the need to intensify surveillance operations following the directive of Secretary Roy Cimatu.
 
Director Bambalan also reported the strengthening of environmental law enforcement in Region 2 through the Regional Environmental Law Enforcement Council which is an expanded version of the Regional Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force and the Regional Mutisectoral Forest Protection Committee.
 
The Cagayan Valley environment chief announced that Region 2 has improved its forest products monitoring stations in south and north exits located in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya and Sta. Praxedes, Cagayan, respectively.
 
To effectively monitor illegal transport of forest products, wildlife and illegally extracted, removed and transported mineral and mineral by-products, the three officials agreed to establish linkage and close coordination among the DENR forest products monitoring stations in the three regions through their respective provincial environment and natural resources office (PENRO).
 
The team leaders of the monitoring stations shall closely coordinate to monitor any movement of and apprehend illegal forest products, wildlife and illegally extracted, removed and transported mineral and mineral by-products.
 
They also agreed that the PENR officer whose jurisdiction covers the monitoring station shall supervise the action of the checkpoint and shall submit report to the concerned regional executive director.
 
The administrative adjudication of apprehended or seized forest products, wildlife, conveyance used, tools and equipment, including filing of criminal complaints against the perpetrators shall be conducted by the community environment and natural resources office concerned. The disposition of confiscated forest products shall be in accordance with the existing laws, rules and regulations.
 
Pursuant to DENR Administrative Order 2018-18, illegal transport of mineral products shall be immediately coordinated to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) by the personnel manning the monitoring station. The apprehended minerals and mineral by-products shall be turned over to the MGB for the conduct of administrative adjudication proceedings and disposition.
 
The MOA signing was witnessed by Assistant Regional Directors Felix Taguba and Marcos Dacanay, and Enforcement Chiefs Arlyn Katherine Buduhan, Joel Daquioag and Charinne Hanako Abalos.#