DENR orders cancellation of six forestland lease agreements in CL

THE DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) here ordered the cancellation of six Socialized Industrial Forest Management Agreement (SIFMA) covering 735 hectares of forestland in four Central Luzon provinces after a performance evaluation showed the SIFMA holders failed to adequately develop their areas.
“Not only did the SIFMA holders fail to develop and protect their areas, they also failed to pay their annual rentals resulting to losses in government revenues,” revealed Maximo Dichoso of the regional DENR here.
The lessees also failed to submit annual accomplishment reports as stipulated in their SIFMAs, he added.
 Dichoso said the findings of the joint review team are grave violations of the terms and conditions of the Lease Agreement, particularly Item Nos.  1, 11, 20, and 25, and the provisions of DENR Administrative Order No 2004-30 or the revised rules and regulations governing the SIFMA Program.
The SIFMAs ordered cancelled are located in Bulacan, Zambales, Tarlac and Nueva Ecija, and shall be included in the National Greening Program (NGP) targets for 2013, he said.
Since 2010, the DENR has already cancelled 43 SIFMAs in the region covering 3,880 hectares of forestland.
This year alone, the DENR has reviewed a total of 157 SIFMA holders in Region 3 covering at least 2,000 hectares. Of these, 117 SIFMAs covering more than 1,300 hectares were recommended for cancellation.
The DENR is set to review the performance of another 170 SIFMA holders by 2013 covering 3,964 hectares.
DENR records showed that Central Luzon’s 324 SIFMA holders covered more than 6,000 hectares and generated a total of P563,718 in rentals since 2010.
Under the SIFMA program, a natural or juridical person enters into an agreement with the DENR, and is conferred the right to develop, utilize and manage a small tract of forestland for 25 years, renewable for another 25 years, consistent with the principles of sustainable development.
Individual or single family units who are Filipino citizens, or cooperatives and associations whose members are also Filipino citizens, and registered with Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or Cooperative Development Authority (CDA), may participate in the program. 
Under DAO 2004-30, individual or single family units may develop up to 10 hectares of forestland while associations or cooperatives may develop up to 500 hectares.
Launched in 1996, the SIFMA program aims to bolster the country’s wood supply, accelerate reforestation and rehabilitation of the country’s open and denuded forestlands, and increase the private sector’s participation in the protection of existing natural forests.