In his SONA yesterday, President Benigno Aquino III mentioned the effort of his administration in curbing down illegal logging activities, citing the efforts of Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. in fighting against illegal logging operations.
The confiscated logs were made into armchairs for the use of public school students. He added that what used to be the root of destruction is now the bridge towards a better future. The armchairs were built at the Agusan del Sur School of Arts and Trades or ASSAT in Prospheridad, Agusan del Sur employing 53 TESDA graduates. The workers have a quota of producing 300 armchairs a day.
Long before Caraga became a region, the place has been known as the timber corridor of the country with its four provinces as a major source of lumber. But the past two decades have seen the decline of the industry almost to its death due to indiscriminate and unregulated logging without even waiting for the forest to replenish itself.
The sudden changes in the weather pattern and rise in the temperature have placed the region into a collision course with natural disasters such as floods and landslides. With such conditions, the president issued last February 1, 2011, Executive Order 23 (EO23) a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests of the entire country, with Caraga region on the forefront of EO23.
From that directive emerged the P-Noy Bayanihan Project, wherein confiscated illegally cut logs were turned over by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) initially to the Department of Education (DepEd) to be processed and constructed into armchairs.
But since DepEd did not have the capability to process and manufacture the armchairs, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or TESDA was called in for the job with the initial budget coming from PAGCOR to fund the project.
TESDA Caraga Regional Director Edwin C. Gatinao pointed out that the idea of converting confiscated logs into chairs for schools is a good way to curb corruption and discourage the further illegal cutting down of trees in the region.
People who were trained by TESDA on carpentry were then commissioned, earning Php250 a day. DepED pays for the production cost of the armchairs that will be delivered to them to keep the ball rolling.
Braulio Dela Pena, Officer in Charge, Chief Regional Operations Division of TESDA said that since June 2011 till July 2012 about 27, 000 armchairs have been made from the 147,000 board feet of confiscated lumber. About 16,621 armchairs that lack only varnish paints have been delivered all over Caraga region’s public schools.
When the demand in Caraga region public schools will be completed, other schools in various parts of Mindanao will soon have their share of the “fruits of illegal logging.”
It’s odd and ironic how the future of Caraga region’s children is being destroyed by illegal logging operations. Most of those hardwood trees took 15 to 20 years or more to grow, that’s an entire generation. Yet here is something that hopefully would shape these children’s future, a tool to help educate them and make sure that where their elders failed would be their salvation—resurrecting dead logs into armchairs of hope.