Sec. Robredo wants DENR personnel in Caraga probed, relieved

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/12 June) — Department of Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo has asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to investigate its personnel in Caraga Region for failing to intercept a large volume of logs smuggled from Agusan del Sur to this city through the Agusan River.

In a press conference at the city hall on Monday, Robredo said he also asked DENR Secretary Ramon Paje to remove the agency’s monitoring station personnel in areas where the logs passed through for “neglect of duty.”

It was the local government unit of Butuan City that confiscated the illegally cut 4,236 lauan logs on June 3 while being towed downstream.

Robredo said he ordered regional police director Superintendent Reynaldo Rafal to locate the barangay where the logs were cut, adding he will ask the barangay captain, local police chief, and mayor to explain why it happened in their jurisdiction.

The secretary stressed it would not be like they will just forget what happened.

“First of all, the total log ban which was mandated by the President is non-negotiable. We cannot just let it happen and then let it pass because by then every illegal log that we will capture in the future, they would use this very moment as a reason,” he said.

“As I have said, all the personnel in the checkpoint should be relieved…so that the people will see that we are serious with this,” Robredo said.

Investigation showed that the logs came from the town of La Paz, Agusan del Sur.

DENR has monitoring stations in the towns of Loreto, Talacogon, and Esperanza, also in Agusan del Sur, and in Las Nieves town in Agusan del Norte, areas where the logs passed through before heading to Butuan.

Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. led the confiscation of the logs initially thought to number 2,400. The count increased to 4,236 logs as authorities discovered hundreds more hidden underneath the water by tying them to the ones on the surface.

The logs were valued at P4 million.

DENR Regional Executive Director Leonardo Sibbaluca claimed that they were the ones who first knew about the transport of the illegal logs and informed the city police’s public safety unit that carried out the raid.

But Robredo said the credit should go to Amante whose efforts should be emulated by the other local chief executives in the region.

“It is a big question how come these logs were able to pass through the monitoring checkpoints of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Las Nieves,” the mayor earlier said. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)