The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Monday ordered local government units (LGUs) and the Philippine National Police to enhance efforts against illegal logging and quarrying after the widespread devastation caused by typhoon “Ulysses.”

“We must act quickly and in a whole-of-society fashion to protect our remaining forests across the country otherwise we are creating and causing more disasters for our country,” Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement.

Año also directed LGUs and the police to “expedite the planting of trees” in coordination with the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“The flooding brought by typhoon ‘Ulysses’ is a harsh reminder that we are failing at doing our level best to protect the environment, especially our remaining forest cover. Kayat inaatasan ko ang lahat ng PNP units at LGUs na pigilan ang illegal logging at illegal quarrying sa kanilang mga nasasakupan,” Año said.

In its disaster report on Monday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said 4,079,739 people or 995,476 families were affected by “Ulysses.”

At least 73 were reported dead and 69 were injured, while 19 others remained missing.

Año reminded LGUs of DENR Memorandum Circular 2011, which mandates all municipal/city mayors to conduct upland monitoring “to ensure that no illegal logging, kaingin and other forms of forest destruction” take place within their jurisdictions.

“All LGUs must reactivate their local Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force and be decisive in implementing the anti-illegal logging campaign and implementation of environmental laws and programs within their localities,” he added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro