DENR-7 confiscates P3.7M forest products

Kristine B. Quintas/NSA (The Freeman) - November 4, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-7 has apprehended undocumented forest products worth P3.7 million. 

The forest products include logs, lumber, timber and flitches of various species, which are now in the custody of DENR. Also, these are placed in the intended depository areas while cases and proceedings are ongoing.

The Enforcement Division of DENR reported that as of October 30, the confiscated forest products totaled to 316.452 cubic meters.

DENR-7 spokesperson Eddie Llamedo said most of the products were confiscated upon arrival in seaports in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, and Toledo, and in Argao, Camotes and Bantayan. 

The confiscated forest products from Mindanao were owned by more than 30 entities. 

The owners will have to undergo administrative adjudication proceedings to determine their culpability to existing forestry laws and regulations and appropriate criminal cases will be filed against them. 

DENR-7 director Isabelo Montejo explained that the requirement of providing transport documents covering the said forest commodities becomes very important, not only as a basis for determining the resource drain but also in providing a control mechanism against the unauthorized movement and disposition of contraband forest products.

Forester Ariel Rica, chief enforcement division of DENR, said Cebu City has been the entry and drop-off points of illegal forest products. 

But, with the strong implementation of Executive Order 23 issued by President Benigno Aquino, unauthorized entry of undocumented forest products was gradually eradicated. 

Montejo said there is a decline in the illegal transport of forest products without the necessary permits or documents.

He attributed the decrease to the establishment of functional monitoring units in seaports or piers and other strategic areas. 

Based on the available data of the agency, this year’s data marks a decrease of nearly 100 cubic meters compared to last year which recorded a total confiscation of 402.994 cubic meters. 

Montejo said he directed their enforcement officers to be on full alert to seize illegal forest transactions.

“With the help of our enforcement partners, we will continue to implement a stronger campaign against illegal logging to protect our remaining forest cover and the same time a factor in mitigating the impacts of climate change,” he said. 

Currently, DENR has conducted at least 238 anti-illegal logging operations within Central Visayas in collaboration with the Regional Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (RALTF). 

The RALTF is composed of the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command, Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, Naval Forces Central, and Philippine Air Force.

Cases filed

A total of 83 forestry related cases were filed by DENR against those who transported forest products without permits since 2013. 

Majority of the products were taken from the forests of Visayas and Mindanao. These are usually sold in Cebu City.

Rica said trend of their operations was not lower than 20 apprehensions, citing that 20 cases were filed in 2013, 37 cases in 2014, and 26 cases this year. 

Of the 26 cases, Cebu province filed 13 cases, Negros Oriental had 12 and Bohol with only one case filed. 

He further said four violators in 2013 and one last year were convicted of the crime. Other cases, on the other hand, are still pending in court.   — (FREEMAN)

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