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World Report View

Green Criminology and Illegal Logging in the Philippines

by Valerie Jane Fausto | 12-08-2019 17:09 recommendations 0 recommendations

Green Criminology

 

Green Criminology, according to Gary R. Potter, a Criminologist from the London South Bank University, United Kingdom, is the analysis of environmental harms from a criminological perspective, or the application of criminological thought to environmental issues. It is a branch of Criminology that is less discussed and studied. On a theoretical level, green criminology is concerned with the social, economic and political conditions and settings that may lead to environmental crimes, perpetrated by environmental criminals and have a subsequent effect to its victims, and on a philosophical level it is within the remits with the different types of troubles and harms that should be considered as a crime and therefore within the concerns of the green criminology. To sum it up, Green Criminology is the study of Green Crimes or environmental crimes that were committed by green criminals and offenders and its victims.

 

Some authors cited that when it comes to environmental crimes, the most essential topics discussed would be the green acts committed in violation of certain laws that would harm and endanger the environment, and green criminals who violates this law against the environment. Nevertheless, excluding the victim of these environmental crimes because environmental crimes like cutting trees is considered as a victimless crime because there is no complaining person. But upon analyzation, the true victims of these crimes are the people living in this earth, the people who commits green crimes, people who benefits from these green crimes and people who experiences the different effects of these green crimes.

 

            Environmental victimization is a serious social and political problem that transcends national boundaries and is a topic of interest to a broad range of different intergovernmental forums. The state, in focusing on its specific mandate of crime prevention and criminal justice aspects, can add value by studying the actual prevalence and consequences of victimization as a result of environmental crime. It is crucial to appreciate the extent of victimization, the losses and damages caused by these forms of crime, who and what are affect, from individuals, local communities and indigenous peoples, to nature itself, non-human species, the ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as the challenges victims face in accessing justice. This can contribute to the development of a holistic response wherein the criminal justice system is an effective tool and part of a plethora of mechanism to protecting the environment.

 

Top Green Crimes

 

            Green Crimes varies from one country to another. But one this is for sure, green crimes happens to all places in the world. In a study conducted by the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) together with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), it was found out that the top five (5) most serious environmental crimes around the globe are wild animal traffic, electronic waste management, finning, dumping of waste in rivers and aquifers and indiscriminate logging.

 

            Wild animal trafficking is the largest illegal business in the world and in this business, the more endangered the species is, the higher the price for it. Electronic waste management consists of computer, tv sets, mobile phones, appliances… and etc. garbages. Finning, on the other hand, came from sharks that are captured every year where they cut off fins from alive sharks and then be thrown back into the sea. A kilogram of shark fin is worth 600 euros in the Asian market. While dumping in rivers and aquifers are caused by companies, factories and public administrations. This is considered as a very serious crime because not only does it cause the illness and death of local wildlife but it also affects the surrounding plants and the environmentalist food chain. And lastly, indiscriminate logging which is the main cause of deforestation. The uncontrolled logging of wood for furniture or other goods or even for farm lands is the most heinous environmental crime.

 

Illegal Logging and Deforestation

 

One of the main difficulties involving the discussion on illegal logging is related to the fact that there exists no common definition of what exactly the term involves, even if only English language sources are taken into consideration.

 

According to INTERPOL, Illegal logging represents the starting point of a complex process of interconnected organized criminal activities undertaken at an international level. Illegal logging can be defined as the breaking of national laws and international treaties regulating the harvesting, processing, transporting, and trading of timber. The World Bank estimates the economic loss from illegal trade to be approximately 10 billion US dollars annually, and losses due to tax evasion and royalties on legally sanctioned logging to be approximately 5 billion US dollars. Illegal logging is one, very significant, component of a complex array of problems that are leading to a worldwide crisis of forest loss and degradation. Poverty, competing demands for land, misguided policies and investment strategies are among the causes of deforestation and these have been studied and debated in many fora. Only relatively recently has serious attention and open debate focused on crime as a significant contributor to forest deforestation but, perhaps surprisingly, professional criminal justice and law enforcement input to these discussions has been limited. This is particularly so with respect to international criminal justice mechanisms and agencies. Awareness within these circles of the growing interest and attention given to illegal logging is therefore low, and the contribution of specialized law enforcement authorities has therefore been limited.

 

Effects of Illegal Logging

 

            The impacts of illegal logging include environmental, economic and social aspects. Environmental impacts include the loss or degradation of forests, as illegal logging tends to be associated with poor forest management. This can result in the loss of habitats and biodiversity. For example, illegal logging is threatening the survival of some of the world’s most endangered primates (Mittermeier et al., 2012), including orang-utans in Indonesia (UNEP, 2011) and the Siberian tiger (EIA, 2014). Deforestation and forest degradation also has implications for climate change, as forests have a crucial role in both mitigating against and adapting to climate change. Illegal logging in nine forest producer countries is estimated to have released 190 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2013 (Chatham House, 2015).

 

            Illegal logging can result in the loss of government revenue. Such losses can be significant; it has been estimated that the Indonesian government lost US$7 billion between 2007 and 2011 due to illegal logging and forest sector mismanagement (Human Rights Watch, 2013), while in Mozambique, over US20 million were lost to state revenues in 2012 from unpaid taxes on exports to China (EIA, 2013). Loss of revenue undermines efforts to place the forest sector on a more sustainable footing, as lost revenue cannot be reinvested in the sector. Furthermore, because illegal logging is often unsustainable, future sources of employment and export revenues are not realised.

Illegal logging also distorts global markets and undermines incentives for sustainable forest management, as illegal timber is often cheaper than legal timber. A study published in 2004 estimated that illegal products were depressing world prices by between 7% and 16% (Seneca Creek Associates and Wood Resources International, 2004).

 

The social impacts of illegal logging are diverse. Illegal logging undermines the rule of law and is often associated with corruption (Goncalves et al., 2012; Transparency International, 2009). It may also entail a lack of recognition of the land and resource use rights of forest communities, or of the rights of other concession-holders. This can have negative impacts on the livelihoods of local people and result in conflict. The revenues from illegal logging may also fund national and regional conflicts, as has been the case in Liberia (Global Witness, 2011) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (UNEP, 2011).

 

With this different effect of illegal logging, the most obvious way to commit illegal logging is with the use of Chainsaw or it is called chainsaw logging.

 

Prohibition of Chainsaw Logging

 

            Many countries around the world prohibits chainsaw logging just like in Liberia under their National Forestry Reform Law. In practice, it has however been accorded a quasi-legal status, and remains an active and growing industry in the country. This reflects the reality that chainsaw logging currently provides the only source of domestic timber supply in Liberia, at a time when there is a high demand to support reconstruction efforts.  It also makes an important contribution to many people’s livelihoods. Chainsaw logging is extremely widespread.  It is carried out in every county of Liberia, with River Cess, Gbarpolu and Nimba providing the bulk of supplies to Monrovia. The study calculates that somewhere between 1,590 and 3,850 people are involved in chainsaw logging activities. This is an extremely conservative, minimum estimate. Records of imports of chainsaws into the country for example suggest that the real number may actually be between four and ten times this amount. Also, in Liberia, domestic timber market is supplied wholly by chainsaw logging. This is because the sawmilling industry has not yet been re-opened, after ceasing operations in 2003 as a result of the imposition of timber sanctions against Liberia by the international community.

 

Another country that prohibits illegal logging is Cambodia. Agriculture officials have reissued a nationwide warning that all unlicensed chainsaws will be confiscated from private owners and traders, after confiscating 633 illegal chainsaws from loggers so far in 2008. The director of the Department of Administration in the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the government had suppressed 506 illegal logging operations this year and would confiscate unlicensed machines in order to protect Cambodia's forests. But rural villagers who have lost chainsaws and other logging equipment are calling on the government to pay back the cost of the confiscated items. The basis for the confiscation of the chainsaws was because of lack of permit to own it. Owning a chainsaw without a permit issued by the FA became illegal in late 2006, and authorities have since confiscated 2,916 chainsaws, all of which are currently held in state warehouse storage, according to the director of the Department of Forestry Administration.

 

In a local aspect, the Philippines also regulate Chainsaw use in order to prevent illegal loggers from committing logging.

 

Republic Act No. 9175

 

            One of the hottest topics in Green Criminology here in the Philippines, are criminal jurisprudence and justice procedures related to environmental crimes. One of which is the Republic Act No. 9175, which is entitled as “An Act regulating the Ownership, Possession, Sale, Importation and Use of Chain Saws, Penalizing Violations Thereof and For Other Purposes” or also known as the “Chain Saw Act of 2002”.

 

This law was created as a form of compliance to the Philippine Constitution’s mandate to conserve, develop and protect the forest resources under sustainable management. The objective of this law is to pursue an aggressive forest protection program geared towards eliminating illegal logging and other forms of forest destruction which are being facilitated with the use of chain saws. Also, this law aims to regulate the ownership, possession, sale, transfer, importation and/or use of chain saws to prevent them from being used in illegal logging or unauthorized clearing of forest.

 

This law also paved way to the creation of a DENR Administrative Order No. 2003 – 24 which is also known as the “Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Chainsaw Act of 2002 entitled “An Act regulating the Ownership, Possession, Sale Importation, and Use of Chainsaws, Penalizing Violations thereof and For Other Purposes.”

 

DENR Administrative Order 2003 - 04

 

            The objective of DENR Administrative Order 2003-04 is to regulate the purchase, ownership, possession, sale, transfer, importation and/or use of chainsaws to prevent them from being used in illegal logging or unauthorized clearing of forest; to establish and maintain national and local database on existing number of chainsaws, authorized dealers, authorized users, importation and sales; and to facilitate the monitoring of the operations of chainsaw importers, users and others.

 

            These laws have one goal and that is to preserve the virgin forest of the Philippines and stop illegal logging. Illegal logging is a long-time issues and people could dismiss that illegal logging do more harm than good. And it is a good this that the Philippine have this law to preserve the environment.

 

Presidential Decree No. 330

 

            The Chainsaw Act of 2002 was strengthened by the law Presidential Decree No. 330 by the former President Ferdinand E. Marcos. This law is also known as “The Law Penalizing Timber or Illegal Cutting of Logs from Public Forest and Forest Reserved.” This law specifically punishes any person, whether natural or juridical, who directly or indirectly cuts, gathers, removes, or smuggles timber, or other forest products, either from any of the public forest, forest reserves and other kinds of public forests, whether under license or lease, or from any privately owned forest lands in violation of existing laws, rules and regulation shall be guilty of the crime of qualified theft as defined and penalized under Articles 308, 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code; Provided, That if the offender is a corporation, firm, partnership or association, the penalty shall be imposed upon the guilty officer or officers, as the case may be, of the corporation, firm, partnership or association, and if such guilty officer or officers are aliens, in addition to the penalty herein prescribed, he or they shall be deported without further proceedings on the part of the Commissioned of Immigration and Deportation.

 

Status of Illegal Logging in the Philippines

 

            The Philippines is one of the most severely deforested countries in the tropics and most deforestation has happened in the last 40 years. Estimates place forest cover in the Philippines in the year 1900 at 21 million hectares, covering 70% of the total land area. By 1999, forests covered 5.5 million hectares; only 800,000 hectares of this was primary forest. As illegal logging continues, the remaining forest is endangered. The destruction of the Philippine forest was the subject of a study (1999), Decline of the Philippine Forest, by the Institute of Environmental Science for Social Change (ESSC). This study traces the history of the decline, examines the causes and effects of deforestation, and discusses emerging perspectives. The study considers two possible Philippine scenarios for the year 2010. One assumes that meaningful steps will be taken to reverse the decline and offers some hope; the other scenario assumes that things will continue as in the past, and the outcome will be a continued national degradation of resources.

 

            The Philippines is paying a high price for the destruction of its forests and a number of major problems confronting the nation can be traced directly to deforestation. Today, the country faces food insecurity due to soil erosion, which means depleted nutrients and low crop yield. In many provinces, at least 50% of the topsoil has been lost, and 70% of all croplands are vulnerable to erosion. The country’s climatic conditions are such that typhoons sweep the country an average of 19 times a year. The topography is mainly uplands with a slope equal to or greater than 18% and these areas make up 52% of total land area. In the absence of forest cover and with frequent heavy typhoon rains, soil erosion, mass wasting, and landslides are induced.

 

The Philippines is facing water insecurity because of degraded and poorly managed watersheds. More than 57 % of the major watersheds are critically denuded, which means loss of water infiltration and slow recharging of water tables. Nationwide, water quality has deteriorated and cities like Manila, Cebu, Davao, and Baguio, are constantly facing water shortages. A country that once exported some of the finest woods in the world is now a net wood importer.

           

            The decimation of the forest is a tragedy for indigenous peoples. Ethnic groups become forced to retreat into the interior and further impoverished. Government is doing little to raise these people above their subsistence level. Some have left their lands, and the sight of indigenous peoples begging in city streets is not uncommon. They have lost their lands, and their culture has been degraded. With the destruction of indigenous cultures, the nation is losing a treasure that should be nurtured to enrich national cultural diversity.

 

This loss of cultural communities is closely linked to the loss of biodiversity. Tropical forests are rich in herbs, woody plants, birds, insects, and animal life. Destroying the forests means destroying the myriad creatures and flora on which the indigenous communities depend. Forest loss also means loss of forest products such as, rattan, resins, and gums, a source of livelihood for indigenous people. Wildlife is quickly disappearing and to date, the destruction of the ecosystems is taking a heavy toll on biodiversity: 18 species of fauna are already rare and endangered, while 43 species of birds are threatened with extinction.

 

The most obvious cause of illegal logging happened during the Typhon Yolanda where logs of wood were flashed down the Province of Leyte and Samar. In a press conference of the Executive Director of the Department of Environment and National Resources (DENR), he stated that he was very much disappointed to discover that illegal logging is still rampant in the said provinces and DENR personnel there were doing nothing to stop it. Records shows that there are zero number of illegal loggers in those provinces but upon his visit, he found out that furniture were made out of freshly cut lumbers.

 

            For this reason, the DENR mandates all provincial offices to be more vigilant and alert in cases of illegal logging and deforestation. And officials that will not adhere to this will be sanctioned. That is also the reason that law enforcers are mandated to arrest persons in violation of Illegal logging and Chainsaw.

 

Arrested Person by Virtue of R.A. 9175

 

            One of the recorded cases under this law happens last February 10, 2016 at Barangay Ginablan, Pillar, Sorsogon. Through an operation of the municipal police force, they were able to arrest a person who was caught in the act of attempting to cut a tree with the use of an unlicensed chainsaw at an agricultural land owned by another person. Upon assessment, it was found out that the suspect has failed to present any pertinent document that would allow his to cut the tree and that would also allow his to possess and operate his chainsaw.

 

That the reason that in Jones, Isabela, last reported illegal logging incident was last year of June 2018. Where six (6) men were arrested after a ten-wheeler truck and an elf truck loaded with illegally sawn flitches were intercepted at the foothill of the said municipality. The trucks were loaded an estimate of 447 pieces of logs as reported by the Chief of Police.

 

            In Region 2 alone, DENR director, through an aerial survey conducted over the province, said that San Mariano, Dinapigue, Jones and San Agustin in Isabela were considered as a logging hotspot. Meaning, these are the municipalities where most illegal logging were committed. Through the conducted aerial survey, they found out that DENR personnel spotted floating lumber, camp sites with logging trucks and enough supply of gas for their chainsaws.

 

References:

 

Potter, G. R. (2012) Green Criminology. Retrieved on February 13, 2019 at http://greencriminology.org/about-green-criminology/

 

Bicol, K. S. (January 25, 2017) Two Arrested for Violations of RA 10591 and RA 9175. Retrieved on February 14, 2019 at http://pro5.pnp.gov.ph/portal/index.php/component/k2/item/463-two-arrested-for-violations-of-ra-10591-and-ra-9175

 

activesustainability.com (2018) Top 5 Environmental Crimes. Retrieved on February 14, 2019 at http://www.activesustainability.com/environment/crime-against-the-environment

 

Abrematea, N. L. (September 17, 2018) Illegal Logging in E. Visayas dismays DENR executive Director. Retrieved on February 14, 2019 at http.pressreader.com

 

manilatimes.com (December 7, 2014) DENR tags Cagayan Valley illegal logging ’hotspots’. Retired on February 14, 2019 at http://www.manilatimes.net/denr-tags-cagayan-valley-illegal-logging-hotspots/147176/

 

Emerton, L. (January 2011) Chainsaw Logging in Liberia: towards more sustainable production from natural forests. Retrieved on February 15, 2019 at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269099251_Chainsaw_Logging_in_Liberia_towards_more_sustainable_production_from_natural_forests

 

Post, P. P. (December 12, 2008) Government Reissues Chainsaw Ban Following Mass Seizure. Retrieved on February 15, 2019 at https://www.illegal-logging.info/content/govt-reissues-chainsaw-ban-following-mass-seizures

 

Republic Act No. 9175

 

DENR Administrative Order 2003-04


Valerie JaneFausto

  • Philippines Chaperone Valerie Jane Fausto

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