MANGATAREM and eight other towns are now under tight watch for suspected illegal logging activities, according to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO).
The other municipalities are San Nicolas, San Quintin and Umingan in eastern Pangasinan; and Sual, Labrador, Infanta, Dasol and Mabini in western Pangasinan.
Forester Rose Orduña of PENRO said Mangatarem, which is in the central part of the province, has been set as the center of operation of the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force because of its history of illegal logging incidents.
Evidence of large-scale illegal logging was discovered in July in Mangatarem, in an area where suspected illegal loggers built a mountain road ostensibly to facilitate the transport of cut logs to the lowlands.
Monitoring has also been strengthened in other mountainous areas of the province where small-scale illegal logging activities are taking place.
The provincial anti-illegal logging task force is headed by Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Leduina Co while the regional anti-illegal logging task force is headed by DENR Executive Director Samuel Peñafiel.
Orduña said the group has reinforced its current action plan against illegal logging and is gathering evidence against suspects for filing of charges in court.
At the same time, checkpoints have been set up along several highways manned by representatives of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources together with the police to intercept illegal loggers.