‘Hot’ lumber seized in Sarangani

KIAMBA, Sarangani (MindaNews/1 Dec) – The military has seized alleged illegally cut hard wood of various species coming from the town’s forest, an official said on Wednesday.

1Lt. Ferdinand Ragos, commander of the 73rd Infantry Battalion’s Charlie Company, said an estimated 7,500 to 8,000 board feet of lumber, with a market value of P160,000, have been apprehended at a checkpoint fronting their camp in Barangay Tambilil.

They were loaded in a 10-wheeler truck, which is now impounded at the Charlie Company camp.

“They were able to present a transport permit that appears to be recycled,” Ragos said.

The transport permit was issued on November 10 and valid only until November 16, records showed.

Ragos said that they seized the lumber last November 25 after flagging down the truck at their checkpoint.

The military official said they also became suspicious when the permit showed that the lumbers were composed of falcata and mahogany species.

“Falcata is not known to thrive here and also we’ve found there are lawaan and other unknown hard wood species loaded in the truck,” he added.

The source of the seized lumber in Sitio Kaawil, Barangay Tambilil is about 10 kilometers from the Charlie Company headquarters.

“The roar of chainsaws could even be heard sometimes in our camp,” Ragos said.

In a follow-up operation in the forest, soldiers recovered 41 pieces of hard wood species with a combined volume of 2,000 board feet, he said.

These are now strewn along the highway also fronting the Charlie Company’s headquarters.

Amelia Wahid, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer, has set a hearing on December 2 for the seized lumbers to determine the culpability of the suspects.

The alleged illegal loggers were identified as Jack Osama and Susing Sulang, both residents of this town, Ragos said.

President Benigno Simeon Aquino III has ordered a logging ban across the country in a bid to protect the remaining forest cover and in line with climate change adaptation.

He issued Executive Order 23 last February 1 declaring a moratorium on the harvesting of timber from natural and residual forests. It prohibited the cutting of trees not planted by man.

EO 23 also created the anti-illegal logging task force. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)