The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has seized a total of almost 86,000 board feet of forest products estimated to be worth P13.4 million from timber poachers and illegal sawmills operating in the Zamboanga peninsula.
It was the result of a series of raids conducted by Task Force DENR Enforcers Metro Manila (TF-DEMM) from August 18 to September 8.
TF-DEMM was formed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu with the task of ensuring strict implementation of environmental laws and regulations, and go after environmental offenders in the National Capital Region.
But Cimatu later on expanded the coverage of the task force to a nationwide scale, allowing it to tap DENR regional officials and personnel across the country to make sure complaints brought before them are swiftly addressed.
TF-DEMM executive director Jed Motus said the task force acted on intelligence reports that a licensed sawmill in Misamis Occidental was processing “hot” logs from timber poachers operating in Mt. Malindang, and sightings of illegal portable sawmills, locally called “bansuhan,” in Zamboanga del Norte.
Motus said the task force raided four sites where contraband were confiscated due to “spurious or absence of transport documents from its origin, and misdeclaration as to the type of tree species as contained in the Certificate of Timber or Lumber Origin.”
“There is no let up in DENR’s campaign against violators of environmental laws,” he said.
On August 18, the task force intercepted some P12 million worth of wood shipment at the Port of Looc in Plaridel upon the discovery of lawaan wood, an indigenous tree species banned for cutting, concealed in the 32 crates of documented lumber about to be shipped to Mandaue City.
The owner of the seized shipment, with a total volume 46,735 bd. ft., was traced to Avic Jaka Enterprises (AJK), a mini-sawmill operating in Calamba town in Misamis Occidental and whose license is issued to Calamba Vice Mayor Antonio Lawas.
Citing intelligence reports, Motus said poachers transport illegally-cut logs by rafting them through the Langaran River which runs downstream through the northeastern part of Mount Malindang National Park.
The entire shipment was seized in violation of Presidential Decree 705 as amended by Executive Order No. 277, Series of 1987, which prescribes the inclusion of machinery, equipment, implements and tools illegally used in the seizure of undocumented forest products.
The shipment was consigned to Cebu Universal Lumber Co. Inc. and was scheduled to reach the town of Subangko in Mandue City on August 19.
Covered by the Certificate of Lumber Origin (CLO) for the shipment were 6,106 pieces of flacata, mahogany, manguim, marang, and santol lumber.
CLO refers to the document the DENR issues to accompany the shipment or transport of lumber, showing the number of pieces, species volume, place of loading, conveyance used, date of transport, its source and its consignee.
The three-week operation also yielded the seizure of some 8,480 bd. ft. of illegally-cut timber, valued at P424,000, and the apprehension of a certain Venancio Cueno who was caught illegally cutting trees inside the ancestral domain of the Subanen Tribe in Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte on September 1.
The task force likewise seized the 6x6 truck and a mini backhoe found inside Cueno’s property, where the hot logs were discovered.
On September 3, the TF-DEMM—with support from the 42nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and the local police— intercepted abandoned hot logs worth P437,000 while awaiting transport at a coastal area of Barangay Panganuran in Subuco, Zamboanga del Norte.
The logs, consisting of yakal, red and white lawaan with a total volume of 19,000 bd. ft. were classified as threatened wood species and are banned for cutting under DENR Administrative Order 2007-01 issued on January 22, 2007.
Another contraband, measuring 11,668 bd. ft of undocumented gmelina and mahogany lumber valued at P583,397, was seized by TF-DEMM on September 4. It also confiscated three units of portable bandsaws owned a certain Llyod Llorente at Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte. ###