KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/08 January) – Police in North Cotabato confiscated around 6,000 board feet of illegally-cut logs and sliced lumber in a raid on several mini-sawmills located along the Rio Grande de Mindanao in Kabacan town on Friday.
Supt. Alex Tagum, chief of the Public Safety Office of the Cotabato Provincial Police Office, led the raid after receiving information that the operation of mini-sawmills in Barangay Lumayong, Kabacan had resumed.
These sawmills are believed to be the suppliers of several lumberyards in North Cotabato, including those in Carmen, Pikit and Kabacan towns and in Kidapawan City.
Tagum said they failed to arrest any of the operators and workers in the area.
“When the residents saw us coming, they immediately informed the people in the area to vacate the place. We saw them running but we can’t shoot them because that’s not allowed under the law,” he said.
These sawmills were ordered closed in 2011 after the operators could not present to police the necessary permits when they raided the area, he said.
At least 10 sawmills are operating along the Rio Grande de Mindanao, according to reports.
Each sawmill is being operated by at least 10 persons, Amor Baniaga, team leader of the forest rangers in Kabacan town, said.
The confiscated logs and lumber were made from hardwood species like molave, lauan and apitong, and fast-growing species such as gmelina and falcatta.
Many of these logs, Tagum said, were transported from Bukidnon province through the Pulangi River system.
“This is one proof why many of our forests had already been deforested. Many are into illegal logging. They cut trees without thinking of the effects to environment,” he said.
The police official said he received marching orders from Cotabato Governor Lala Mendoza to raid all sawmills and go after illegal loggers in the province.
“This is just a beginning. We won’t stop. We don’t want to experience what the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro experienced last year. This is the reason why there is no letup in our operations against environmental destruction,” he stressed. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)