Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said yesterday that alternative livelihood should be given to families depending on illegal forest activities to boost their income and at the same time protect the environment.
Enrile said over a radio interview in Dumaguete City that he will look into the existing program of the government in order to determine other socio-economic projects that could be implemented to help alleviate the plight of farmers relying on illegal forest activities for survival.
“Dapat na bigyan sila ng alternative livelihood para magkaroon sila ng disenteng income at para maprotektahan din ang ating kalikasan lalo na ang forest areas,” said Enrile, a reelectionist under Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP). “Lalo na ‘yung mga nag-uuling, ‘yung mga nagpuputol ng kahoy para lamang may magamit sa pagluluto, at pati na rin ‘yung mga nagkakaingin.”
Illegal farming activities, including kaingin, are widely practised among upland marginalized farmers in public and forest lands in the country for economic survival.
Under the 2010 General Appropriations Act, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources received around P1.13 billion for forest management, of which P200 million has been earmarked to hire forest protection officers or Bantay Gubat Teams, among farmers.
At present, some kaingeros are hired by the government for tree farming, marine protection and conservation projects. Some receive training in agricultural production of endemic crops to promote food sufficiency.
According to Enrile, other components of the alternative livelihood should include program for non-agricultural projects, training in marketing for alternative products and education of farmers to avoid the destruction of the environment, among others.
There are no records to show the cost of illegal forest activities in the Philippines. Globally, however, the World Bank estimates that losses in terms of market value as a result of illegal logging amount to $10 billion yearly and about $5 billion in terms of government revenue.#