Sarangani officials raise howl over DENR?s release of ship full of logs

The ocean-going vessel M/V Edago Expedition left the port in Glan at 1 a.m. this morning after the DENR issued papers clearing the ship to sail, the Sarangani PIO said in a statement.

A Maritime police patrol reportedly seized the M/V Edago Expedition last Sunday when the boat sought shelter in the cove of Glan after it developed engine trouble.

Police said they found 1,500 lauan logs with “fictitious papers” aboard the vessel.

Environment officer Wilfredo Manipon, DENR representative in Glan, overruled that finding saying that the papers carried by the ship to transport the logs were not fictitious.

“I was questioning the papers of the vessel since I doubted its veracity. However, our CENRO released it last night,” Mayor Enrique Yap Jr. was quoted as saying.

Yap said Manipon should not have allowed the boat to sail until a proper investigation was made on the authenticity of its papers and the origin of the logs.

Besides, Yap said, the vessel was overloaded.

“I am quite sure that the vessel was overloaded. Granting its papers were in order, I am questioning its volume,” he said.

Yap said the DENR did not make a proper inventory of the cargo as required by Philippine environmental laws.

Manipon defended his decision adding the vessel was inspected by his forester, a certain Alexander Ursua.

He said Ursua found that the M/V Edago Expedition has a certificate of transshipment for the logs issued by the DENR station in Baganga (Davao Oriental). The papers were supposed to expire on Sept. 7.

“The excess load, if there are any, is very minimal and within the 10 percent allowable for natural growth species per DENR laws, rules and regulations,” Ursua said.

He said they did not conduct a thorough check on the cargo since the papers appeared to be genuine.

But DENR regional director for forestry Ernesto Lizada said they found some “inconsistencies” on the papers of the vessel.

He said the cursory check made by the DENR personnel in Glan was not enough to determine the veracity of the papers.

“A thorough investigation should have been made,” said Lizada who rushed to confer with Yap after he heard of the mayor’s complaint.

Yap is demanding a full-scale investigation on the matter.

Southern Philippines is a major transshipment point for smuggled logs from Papua New Guinea. Many of these logs are eventually shipped to China, Japan and the US where these are highly prized.

Indonesia has cracked down on this illicit trade but still lumber merchants managed to ship the lumber from Papau New Guinea to the ports of Southern Mindanao. (MindaNews)