BUTUAN CITY, Philippines – The regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has identified 14 people behind the transport of some 3,000 illegally cut logs confiscated along the Agusan River here last Monday.
“We will be filing criminal charges against these individuals and we will let them identify who are the real owners of the logs that had no documents at all,” DENR-Caraga regional technical director for forestry Musa Sarauang said at a press conference here yesterday.
DENR regional executive director Leonardo Sibbaluca and Sarauang said among the 14 were boat operators Silverio Cruz, 56; Alberto Cuarentas, 35; Toto Curato, 30; and Alberto Timbon, 29.
The DENR also identified Pedro Agunat, 34; Ruel Sopas, 20; Jed Calderon, 28; Randy Campay, 24; Raffy Perez, 25; Jimboy Laniba, 25; Allan Lancer, 24; Jemar Kules, 26; and Jofred Capillas, 26.
They claimed that the seized lawaan logs were owned by indigenous groups, civilians and tree farmers and were to be delivered to businessmen in Caraga region.
Sibbaluca said they would not hesitate to file charges against DENR personnel if proven that they allowed the illegally cut logs to pass through their checkpoints. He said they are waiting for the results of the investigation into the incident.
“We are not hesitant to kick them out if found out that aside from neglect of duty, they also received money, favor or whatever from illegal loggers. We are ready to file both criminal and administrative charges against these scalawags in the service,” Sibbaluca and Sarauang said.
Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. earlier had called for an investigation into why the illegally cut logs passed through DENR checkpoints unnoticed.
In his report to Sibbaluca, forester Claro Licayan said he and three other DENR personnel saw armed men escorting the hot logs.
Licayan said it was at this point when he informed forester Gabriel Arlan, who was in charge of the Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte checkpoint, that the shipment was on its way to Las Nieves town.
Arlan, in his report, meanwhile, said he warned the team manning the checkpoint in Barangay Bit-os.
However, the reports did not state if the DENR foresters in charge of the checkpoints informed the Caraga police about it.
Amante said he knew about the incoming hot logs as early as Saturday night through Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, who cited a text message he had received from concerned citizens.
Amante said he received similar text messages through his Mayor’s Action Network and barangay intelligence network. - By Ben Serrano