P.5-M ‘hot lumber’ seized in Surigao City

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/05 June) – Maritime police seized an unmarked motorboat carrying over 15,000 board feet of lauan (dipterocarp) species after a chase off Hikdop Island, Surigao City on Monday evening.

According to Supt. Fernando S. Tomamak Jr., deputy of the Regional Maritime Unit based here, they received a report that a suspicious looking boat was sailing towards Surigao Strait.

Sensing that the police were coming for them, Tomamak said, the boat crew tried to evade arrest by increasing speed.

He said his men went to check the boat and were surprised to see its load.

Tomamak identified the suspects as Junel P. Perante, of Consuelo, Cantilan Surigao del Sur; Jhunrey D. Aforbo, of Taruk., Socorro, Surigao del Norte; Jeffrey S. Magsalay; Richard O. Estrella; John Rey O. Estrella; and Jerry R. Tabang; all residents of Barangay Sering, Basilisa, Dinagat Island.

The police official said the suspects violated Presidential Decree 705 and President Benigno Aquino III’s order last year that bans logging.

He added the said lumber came from Cantilan town in Surigao del Sur and was bound for Cebu City.

Cliff C. Abrahan, the new City Environment and Natural Resources Officer, told MindaNews that the illegal lumber was intended for furniture and could fetch a price of at least P.5 million.

The lumber and the unmarked vessel are now in the custody of the Maritime Regional Office in Surigao City.

One of the suspects said they were hired by Cocong Juarez of Cantilan to transport the lumber to Cebu City. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)