KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/27 June) — Forest rangers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) confiscated on Friday some 3,600 board feet or 8.48 cubic meters of illegally-cut logs of the Binuang tree, a naturally grown species in Barangay Buena Vida, a declared ancestral domain of the Bagobo tribe in Makilala in North Cotabato.
Reports from the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office (MENRO) in Makilala said the logs were loaded on a 10-wheeler truck with plate number GKJ 273 for delivery to a dealer in a nearby village when intercepted by a vigilant community, assisted by elements of the 26th CAFGU Active Auxiliary of the 38th Infantry Battalion, and the DENR.
Engr. Walter Ruizo, MENRO of Makilala, said the cargo was the second delivery since last week. A few days earlier, some 2,000 board feet of Binuang tree, along with Marang and Mahogany timber, were transported during a midnight loading.
Records showed that a certain Lamir Maway, resident of Barangay Buena Vida, owned the timber.
During the investigation, Maway told MENRO personnel that the logs were to be delivered to RNF Summit Woodworks located at Barangay Bulatukan, also in Makilala town.
Maway claimed there was nothing illegal in his delivery and presented to authorities pertinent papers as proof.
Among the documents were the undated certification issued by Datu Jaime Odo, Sr., tribal chieftain of Barangay Buena Vida, which endorsed the intent of Maway to utilize nine Mahogany trees, 11 Marang trees, and a Binuang tree.
It, however, stated that the logs would not be used for commercial purposes.
It also said that no lumber should be brought outside the barangay where the certification was issued.
But another endorsement coming from a tribal chieftain identified as Datu Bienvenido Macalos, also from Barangay Buena Vida, has contravened the certification issued by Datu Odo.
It stated there that Maway requested the cutting down of those trees for commercial purposes.
Engr. Ruizo has made it clear the cutting of trees for commercial use in areas identified as part of the ancestral domain of the indigenous tribes is strictly prohibited under the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act (IPRA).
Also, he said, the cutting of naturally-grown specie, like Binuang tree, is not allowed under the Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines.
Ruizo said that on Thursday night, the truck loaded with 3,597 board feet of Binuang tree was seized by officials of Barangay Buena Vida, led by its chair, Aurelio Tajantajan, and guarded by the 38th IB led by Sgt. Ernesto dela Cruz.
The next day, Ruizo sent three of his personnel identified as Gerardo Pagaran, Eduardo Calanuga, and Moses Duño, to the area where they learned that had it not been the determination of the village officials to stop the delivery, the truck could have pulled out of the area.
Around 5 p.m., on Friday, the truck driven by a certain Joel Vallente was deposited at the Makilala municipal grounds. Ruizo noted the presence in the area of a certain Conrado Floresta who claimed he was ordered by his employer to escort the truck out.
“Our office has taken note that Conrado Floresta was, in the past, involved in similar violations of forestry law,” said Ruizo in his report.
The cargo of illegal lumber was scaled by the MENRO staff and DENR-12 forest rangers Rolly Ramos and Rudy Tango. Based on the report, there were 315 pieces of lumber with different dimensions totaling to 3,597.98 board feet loaded in the truck.
“The apprehension of these violators was in effect due to a vigilant community,” said Ruizo. (Malu Cadelina-Manar/MindaNews