05 November 2012

Three executive Departments, namely, the Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), have jointly created Fact-Finding Committees to handle cases related to Illegal Logging and Illegal Mining activities.

Under Joint Department Order (JDO) Nos. 001-2012 and 002- 2012 (on illegal logging and illegal mining, respectively), Fact-Finding Committees were created, composed of officials, lawyers, investigators and prosecutors from the three Departments and the concerned agencies and offices under their respective jurisdiction (e.g., the National Bureau of Investigation [NBI], the National Prosecution Service [NPS], and Philippine National Police [PNP]). They are mandated to investigate, collect evidence, build cases and file appropriate charges against those involved or responsible for illegal logging and illegal mining operations, including incidents of violence against, or killing of those charged with enforcing and implementing the government's campaign against such illicit activities, or those otherwise involved i n the fight against illegal logging and illegal mining.

To ensure accountability and effective performance of said Committees, the Joint Department Orders (JDOs) provide for the submission of monthly reports to the Secretaries of the DENR, DILG and DOJ, for onward transmission to the Office of the President. The creation of such Joint Fact-Finding Committees was done pursuant to a directive from President BENIGNO S. AQUINO III for the three Departments "to meet and plan to intensify the implementation" of the anti-illegal logging and anti-illegal mining  campaign, and to "ensure the conviction" of those who violate the law. The President issued the directive after noting not just the public health and safety hazards and environmental degradation that result from such illicit activities, but also the violence and bloodshed that trail the government's efforts to combat and eradicate such illegal operations.

"These Fact-Finding Committees, which directly report to us three Cabinet Secretaries and, through us, to the President, were created to ensure that the investigations and the case build-up are effective in rooting out those responsible for the persistence of these illegal operations. We want to ensure that everyone who profits from these activities, including and especially those who resort to violence against law enforcers and anti-illegal logging and anti-illegal mining activists, are all brought to justice. We fear, as it has indeed been reported, that the reason why these illicit operations still persist is because there are strategically positioned government agents, officers or officials who protect these operations. If they think they are untouchable, by the creation and operation of these Committees, we intend to disabuse them of such notion," said Secretary of Justice Leila M . De Lima.

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