GIGAQUIT, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews/20 April) — Local and environment officials have allegedly taken no action on reports that timber poaching has persisted in some barangays with at least 1,000 board feet of lumber from lauan and other banned tree species smuggled daily.
A source who requested anonymity said that Barangay San Isidro, where a dam is located, is the exit point of the illegal timber, adding this has become a daily activity.
The source said that round logs and flitches or sliced timber would be hauled to the river and made to float toward the dam.
MindaNews saw lumber of various sizes that were stocked near the dam waiting for transport.
Residents said these are usually brought to the neighboring town of Claver which is host to four large-scale mining companies.
Gigaquit Mayor Arturo Carlos Egay Sr. has not issued any statement on the continuing cutting of trees.
Barangay councilor Vilma E. Cotir of Barangay Camam-onan, Gigaquit said that many Mamanwas and Visayan settlers depend on timber poaching for their livelihood.
Jun Calinawan, a Mamanwa from Camam-onan said residents prefer this activity to farming because they can earn money fast.
He said farming is difficult because the only way they can transport their produce is through Baoy River.
He added that the local people have engaged in timber poaching even before President Benigno Aquino III imposed a log ban.
Calinawan said they don’t have any alternative livelihood that could make them stop doing it.
Teodoro Abusijo, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resource Office said he immediately instructed his men to investigate the reported timber poaching. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)