Sawmills trim operations after moratorium on timber cutting

Published by rudy Date posted on April 19, 2011

The government’s moratorium on timber harvesting has started to take its toll on furniture makers as sawmill companies scaled down operations by trimming the working period to four instead of five days.

“About three weeks ago, many of our regular members, in particular sawmills, have started implementing shorter working periods, especially those located in timber communities,” Maila Vazquez, deputy executive director of the Philippine Wood Producers Association, told Manila Standard.

“They said it is better to shorten the working days than totally stop operations or lay off workers,” she said.

She said majority of the sawmill members were into a four-day or a five-day working week from operating five days or 6 days a week.

Vasquez said furniture makers from Cebu had started complaining about the lack of wood for their operations while plywood makers increased prices by an average of P45 per five-millimeter due to increased imports.

The government banned timber harvesting on Feb. 4, endangering the country’s commitment to export high value and high-end wood products estimated at $1 billion a year.

Party list Rep. Angelo Palmones in March filed a resolution calling for an investigation on the indefinite moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in national and residual forests and the issuance of licenses for sawmills and plywood producers.

He said President Aquino was “ill-advised” in issuing EO 23 because it would encourage unscrupulous loggers to further decimate trees in national and residual forests.

“Also, insisting on a total log ban will be detrimental to our economy,” he said adding that more than 2 million people directly or indirectly employed in the logging and wood processing industry would be affected by EO 23. –Othel V. Campos, Manila Standard Today

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