Byline: EDMER F. PANESA
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Elisea G. Gozun has created a seven-man team assigned to step up reforestation activities in areas prone to floodings and landslides.
The move came after President Arroyo on Monday ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to map out a comprehensive plan for the immediate reforestation of Southern Leyte and nearby provinces affected by massive landslide last weekend.
Gozun said she will personally head "Task Force Reforestation" whose members include the heads of DENR-attached agencies such as the Bureau of Mines and Geosciences, Environmental Management Bureau, and the National Authority for Mapping and Research Information Authority (NAMRIA).
"The task force shall be on top of all reforestation activities in flood- and landslide-prone areas and shall see to it that all DENR regional offices submit regular updates on reforestation activities in their areas," Gozun said.
Over the weekend, massive landslides occurred in Panaon Island, Southern Leyte, particularly from the towns of Liloan, San Francisco, and San Ricardo at the same time as flash floods hit Diwalwal, T'boli, and Surigao City and other parts of Caraga region.
Gozun partly blamed the disaster that killed hundreds to illegal logging and the resulting denudation in the affected areas.
She said the tragedy could serve as a wakeup call for all Filipino to regain environmental consciousness.
"The unfortunate incident only underscores the importance of preserving our forests and the urgent need to …