MARABUT, Samar – Government authorities confiscated of illegally cut timbers of various species in a village of this town with an estimated value of more than P233, 000.
The fletches of illegally cut timbers were seized in Barangay Tinabanan, this town, on March 14 by a joint team composed of personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, local police and soldiers belonging to the 52nd and 87th Infantry Battalions. Confiscated by the raiding team was 3,883.87 board feet of illegally cut timbers belonging to the species of lawaan, patsaragon and yakal with a street value of P233, 032.
Also seized were four units of chainsaws; 75 sacks of charcoal valued at P26, 250.
The owner or owners of the seized items have yet to be known to the authorities, said DENR Executive Regional Director Leonardo Sibbaluca.
However, during the raid, six men, whose identities were not disclosed, were arrested. They were seen to have boarded the cut lumbers to their motorcycles. Sibbaluca vowed that once unmasked, appropriate charges will be filed against the owners, particularly on violation of the Forestry Code of the Philippines.
It was learned that the joint team responded after a concerned citizen reported that several illegally-cut lumbers were being hauled and found along the pathway of kilometer 4 up to kilometer 22 of said village. Sibbaluca disclosed that intelligence report revealed that seized forest products believe to have been financed by some influential personalities and businessmen in Samar. “These trees are good for making furniture. I believe that this is part of a bigger haul to be delivered to Tacloban City or other places in the region,” Sibbaluca said.
Meanwhile, Elpidio Cabahit Jr., chief of the forest protection and law enforcement unit of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office based in Sta. Rita, also in Samar, admitted that it was very difficult to monitor a total of 186,864,12 hectares of forested lands under his jurisdiction.
He claimed his office has only 3 forest guards monitoring all the nine towns of Sta. Rita, Basey, Marabut, Calbiga, Hinabangan, Pinabacdao, San Sebastian, Talalora and Villareal Samar. “We lack men, logistics to guard our forests notwithstanding the danger since said some forested areas covering our area of responsibility were NPA rebel infested and some illegal loggers were also armed,” Cabahit said. (JAZMINE BONIFACIO/RESTITUTO A. CAYUBIT)