The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) R2 Isabela, in collaboration with the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) – Isabela and Provincial Government of Isabela, conducted an Information Dissemination Forum on Forest Genetic Resources Laws, Policies, and Regulations on 16 April 2024, at the FNDY Hall Amphitheater, Provincial Capitol, Alibagu, City of Ilagan, Isabela.

Forester Geronimo Cabaccan Jr., ENR Officer of the Provincial Government of Isabela, in his welcome and opening remarks, stated the continuous initiatives of PGI in environmental conservation, preservation, and reforestation through their One Million Bamboo in One Day campaign. He added that this forum would serve as an avenue for everyone to understand how to improve their livelihoods without compromising the environment. For. Cabaccan officially opened the forum with his statement of partnership of PGI with DTI and DENR for the shared goal of environmental protection while promoting business growth.

Ms. Erma B. Gamit, the Chief of the Permitting Unit in PENRO Isabela and Resource Speaker, during her discussions, highlighted the legal basis of the regulations enforced by the DENR, including the exemptions imposed by their agency. She carefully dissected every provision to the audience to emphasize the mandate of DENR for environmental sustainability and protection while valuing the livelihood of everyone through proper cultivation, utilization, and management of forest genetic resources.

As the discussion developed with the citing of illegal practices that should be avoided by the MSMEs to prevent apprehensions, confiscation of products, and penalty fees, Ms. Gamit encouraged everyone to abide by the law by securing the necessary permits from the CENRO concerned within their area.

During the open forum, MSMEs in the furniture-making industry raised their concerns about their difficulty in identifying legal sources of wood with plantations. It is also a challenge for them to harvest the timber planted on their private land because of the regulations on chainsaws. These concerns were carefully addressed by Ms. Gamit, and she vowed to provide the list they have on legal sources in Isabela and those registered chainsaw operators in every municipality.

On the other hand, rattan manufacturers also have the same concern regarding sources of raw materials. Ms. Gamit suggested that those manufacturers in San Mariano and Echague may opt to visit their CENRO to apply for the Rattan Cutting Contract and be eligible to cut, gather, and transport the resources and be listed as legal sources. To date, the lone legal source is in Dinapigue, Isabela.

As for bamboo, regulations are still at ease since the DENR only requires a Certificate of Verification (CoV) for the harvesting and transporting of bamboo poles outside the municipality where the plantation is located; CoV is not required if the poles are only transported within the locality.

To formally close the forum, OIC-BDD Zenaida M. Quinto thanked and congratulated everyone for their devoted time and effort for the success of this endeavor. She reiterated the commitment of DTI to bolstering the growing industries of bamboo, rattan, and furniture in the province while strengthening the partnership with DENR and PGI to protect the natural resources of Isabela. She ended her closing remarks by promising that this forum is not the end but the beginning of business sustainability.

The Information Dissemination Forum concluded on a positive note, with participants expressing their delight at the opportunity to engage in such an impactful activity. Notably, it marked the first time that all three industries convened in a single forum, providing MSMEs with a platform to voice their concerns, all of which were addressed effectively. The forum drew nearly 200 attendees, comprising MSMEs from the Bamboo, Rattan, and Furniture-Making Industries, as well as representatives from LGUs — MENROs and Chairmen on Trade and Industry, and Negosyo Center Junior Business Counselors, highlighting the broad and inclusive participation in this significant event.

This initiative is the agency’s response to the stakeholders’ call, especially the MSMEs, regarding concerns about the lack of legal sources of wood and rattan, permits and permitting procedures, as well as regulations on bamboo, rattan, and timber trading and harvesting.

Posted on Facebook on April 19, 2024.