LEGAZPI CITY, (PNA) — Coconut trees are now allowed to be cut on some conditions under the newly amended Republic Act 10593, known as an Act providing for the regulation of the cutting of coconut trees.
The amended law also provides police powers to the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) to investigate, apprehend and arrest possessor of coconut lumber without necessary permit — including search and seize of a moving vehicle with illegally cut, gathered, collected or removed coconut lumber.
In the Province of Albay, ban on cutting of coconut trees is still in effect, according to Board Member Ramon Alsua, committee on agriculture chairman.
However, there are some exemptions which allow the cutting on coconut trees such as if the tree is 60 years old in the case of old varieties and at least 40 years old for dwarf varieties and when the tree is severely disease-infested and beyond rehabilitation.
Aside from that, Alsua added, such cutting is also allowed when the tree is severely damaged by typhoon or lightning.
“As a matter of policy in the province cutting of coconut trees is still prohibited,” he stressed.
Alsua said the PCA shall also, in coordination with the local government unit concerned, require the registration of all sawmills, lumberyards, coconut wood dealers and other persons or entities dealing in the processing and sawing of coconut trees.
“Although it is true and allowed by law to cut disease severely infested coconut trees and for other reasons it should still follow the usual process or procedures in conformity with the basic law,” the Albay board member added.
The PCA, in order to effectively implement the provisions of this Act, may request the assistance of any local government unit to monitor and ensure compliance with this Act, including its implementing rules and regulations.
For this purpose, the PCA may deputize the Philippine National Police or other law enforcement agencies to investigate and apprehend those caught violating the provisions of this Act, including the confiscation of illegally cut coconut trees.
In order to prevent wastage, the PCA shall order the immediate disposition of confiscated coconut lumber in a manner to be determined by the PCA.
Pursuant to the Act, another significant amendment states that “No permit to cut shall be granted unless the applicant has secured from the barangay captain of the locality where the cutting will be done, a certification under oath that he/she has already planted the equivalent number of coconut trees applied for to be cut.”
With such provision, the PCA is mandated to coordinate with the local government unit concerned to verify if a replanting was implemented, and regulate and oversee the fertilization and care of the newly planted coconut trees.
Moreover, it shall be incumbent upon the PCA to conduct, from time to time, on-the-spot inspections of the sites where the coconut trees have been planted.
Once no replanting was done upon the verification of the PCA, the barangay captain who issued the certification shall, upon conviction, be penalized with imprisonment and will be charged with fine of not less than three years but not more than seven years and a fine of not less than ₱100,000.00 but not more than ₱ 1.0 million.
Furthermore, the barangay captain concerned shall be perpetually disqualified from holding any other public office.