TYPHOON-HIT. Some of the fallen coconut trees in Hinundayan, Southern Leyte in this Dec. 23, 2021 photo, just a week after Typhoon Odette. The Philippine Coconut Authority is eyeing to fast-track the clearing of trees damaged by the typhoon with the simplified process of the issuance of a permit to cut coconut trees. (Photo courtesy of Isidro Mendoza)

TACLOBAN CITY – The Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA) is eyeing to speed up the clearing of trees damaged by Typhoon Odette with more simplified process to secure a permit to cut coconut trees.

PCA Eastern Visayas regional manager Joel Pilapil on Friday said the typhoon-ravaged provinces of Southern Leyte and Leyte are among the areas in the country covered by a memorandum that will take effect for one year beginning March 2, 2022.

Memorandum Circular No. 02 calls for " a moratorium on the issuance of a regular permit to cut coconut trees and in lieu thereof, the issuance of (a) special permit to cut coconut trees in areas Directly Hit by Typhoon Odette in Regions 4-A (Calabarzon), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), 8 (Eastern Visayas), 10 (Northern Mindanao), and 13 (Caraga)."

Pilapil added applicants can now secure a special permit instead of regular permit to cut and transport coconut lumber within the province.

Approval can be done at the PCA provincial office and not through the PCA regional office under the regular process.

“This will entice processors since it is free to secure special permit. It will lead to the fast-tracking of debris clearing and return of farming activities quickly,” Pilapil said in a message sent to the Philippine News Agency (PNA).

The memorandum only covers coconut trees classified as totally damaged and beyond recovery in towns badly hit by the typhoon as reported in the final rapid evaluation.

Coconut lumber processors and traders are required to donate 10 percent of their processed lumber to local government units in support of shelter rebuilding efforts.

Pedro Aquino Jr., PCA regional technical unit officer, said there are some 3.59 million coconut trees in Southern Leyte and Leyte provinces classified as totally damaged.

Of the number, only 3,469 trees have been processed into lumber nearly three months after the typhoon crossed Leyte Island on Dec. 16, 2021.

The typhoon has destroyed the livelihood of 82,370 coconut farmers in the Southern Leyte and Leyte provinces.

Other provinces covered are Palawan, Antique, Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur. (PNA)