Duterte wants illegal loggers to cut fallen trees in typhoon-hit areas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25) — President Rodrigo Duterte said he is willing to pay small-time illegal loggers to help in cutting off fallen trees in areas battered by Typhoon Odette last December.

“Ang importante diyan ngayon is the chainsaw or the portable sawmills," said Duterte in his pre-recorded public address on Tuesday. "Kung ayan ang trabahuhin nila, all you have to do is go to the office of Gen. [Roy] Cimatu, get a permit to operate a chainsaw to cut fallen trees.”

[Translation: What is important now is the chainsaw or the portable sawmills. If they will work on that, they just need to go to the office of Gen. Cimatu, get a permit to operate a chainsaw and cut the fallen trees.]

“If you commit to use that, we will pay you sa trabaho ninyo," he added. "I am encouraging the illegal loggers, yung mga small-time, go back there.”

[Translation: If you commit to use that, we will pay you for your work. I am encouraging the illegal loggers, especially those who are small-time, to go back there.]

Data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council showed that at least 1.3 million houses across 11 regions were damaged due to Typhoon Odette in December.

More than 339,000 individuals are still staying in 1,146 evacuation centers, the NDRRMC added.

Duterte said that the fallen trees could be used to build houses.

“Let us make use of the fallen coconut trees...Ilagare mo (Saw it) and make it a house out of that material,” he said.

He added that he could shell out the payment for the illegal loggers from his office.

Vaccination of evacuees

Moreover, Duterte also wanted evacuees in typhoon-hit areas to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’d like to go there personally and again to ask the health workers to give vaccination to everybody there para mas madali (so it will be easy). We were able to gather them in one place, in several places, but in one place for each barangay,” said Duterte as he expressed intent to visit again the affected provinces.

If many affected individuals are still unvaccinated against COVID-19, Duterte said that the Philippine Coast Guard can use its fast crafts to deliver the vaccine doses to the evacuation centers.

He added that he is willing to give spare doses to the members of New People’s Army. But Duterte then asked the communist rebels to allow the government to freely work on its vaccination drive in these areas.

“Hindi kayo pwede unahin. Kalaban kayo sa gobyerno,” said Duterte. Kung may sobra, tawagan niyo muna ako, na kung may sobra ibigay ninyo sa NPA para hindi ma-COVID-19.”

[Translation: You cannot be prioritized. You are enemies of the state. If there will be extra doses, give me a call first to give them to the NPA so that you will not be infected with COVID-19.]