Seized illegal lumber for Jolo fire victims

Davao City - The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) will receive from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confiscated illegally-cut forest products to be used in rebuilding 1,500 houses in Jolo which were burned February 3.

“The burned houses, mostly on stilts, were in three barangays of Jolo located by the seashore and owned by families whose livelihood is mainly fishing,” said MinDA Chief Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

Families from Barangay Pier, Takut Takut and Tulay lost their homes to the fire on which started at 9AM on February 3, and would need materials to build their houses in the same area.

Piñol said that Sulu Gov. Sakur Tan told him in a phone conversation on Monday (Feb 3) that the 1,576 families who lost their homes would like to rebuild their homes in the same area.

“Ayaw nila ma relocate kasi mapalayo sila sa dagat,” Gov. Tan said.

MinDA once again asked DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu through Undersecretary Jim Sampulna for donation of confiscated lumber for Jolo rehabilitation.

Usec Sampulna informed MinDA Undersecretary Janet Lopoz that the DENR in Region 9 which is the nearest office to Jolo has readied the first shipment.

This is the second time MinDA engaged the DENR for the use of seized illegal lumber for disaster intervention.

Earlier, DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu also ordered the release to MinDA of seized lumber for the rehabilitation of earthquake affected areas in Davao and Cotabato.

“MinDA will engage the Department of National Defense so that naval assets could be used in transporting the lumber to Jolo,” Piñol stressed.

On February 13, Piñol will travel to Jolo to conduct a personal assessment of the damages in the fire that gutted down the houses. The visit will enable him to identify the basic needs of the fire victims for timely intervention.

He said that timely government assistance would not only help the victims but also contribute in the efforts against violence as many people in Sulu believed that the government does not care for them.

“President Duterte asked me to relay to the people of Jolo his concern for their welfare and directed MinDA to fast-track the delivery of timely interventions, “he said.

Duterte tasked Piñol, who is also the President’s “Point Man” for the Bangsamoro region, to coordinate with various agencies to deliver the necessary assistance to fire victims of mostly poor families. #

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