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Arroyo gives task force one month to get illegal loggers
Updated 01:18pm (Mla time) Dec 08, 2004
Agence France-Presse

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered a special government task force on Wednesday to identify and prosecute major illegal loggers blamed for deadly landslides that wiped out entire towns in the Philippines.

Arroyo said illegal loggers were "violators of the right to sustainable environment."

"We shall prosecute the wrongdoers and restore the dignity of victims of oppression," Arroyo said in a speech marking International Human Rights Day.

She said anti-illegal logging task force head Victor Corpus and Environment Secretary Michael Defensor were being given "one month from today to identify, investigate and prosecute the big-time illegal loggers, starting from the hardest hit disaster areas."

Floods and landslides triggered by successive storms left some 1,500 people dead or missing in the Philippines.

Hardest hit were the coastal towns of Infanta, Real and General Nakar.

Officials have blamed widespread logging in the Sierra Madre mountain range for the deluge of mud, logs, and boulders that buried much of the three towns.

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