7 police chiefs sacked for failure to stop illegal logging in Agusan Sur

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/01 July)  — Philippine National Police chief Nicanor Bartolome has ordered the relief of the provincial police chief and six municipal police chiefs in Agusan del Sur,  for allegedly failing to stop logging activities despite the nationwide ban on logging.

Superintendent Martin Gamba, information officer of the Caraga police regional office 13 (PRO13) named the police officers that are to be relieved as: Sr. Superintendent Rodolfo Dasmarinas, provincial police director of Agusan del Sur;  police chiefs Sr. Inspector Ronnel Bangalisan, of Esperanza town;  Sr. Inspector Joel Liong of San Luis; Sr. Inspector Ephraim Detuya of Talacogon; Sr. Inspector Wilson Corpuz of Loreto, all of Agusan del Sur  and Inspector Jesse Rey De Gracia, of Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte

The chief of police of Butuan City,  Sr. Superintendent Pedro Obaldo Jr. was also included in the list of those who will be relieved, even as most of the illegally cut logs were confiscated within his area of responsibility by police personnel under his command.

Sr. Superintendent Generoso Cervo, Chief, Public Information Office of the PNP told MindaNews in a telephone interview that the order was given on  June 29 by PNP chief Nicanor Bartolome and will take effect “within this week” (between July 2 and 6).

He said Bartolome is “not contented with the anti-illegal logging campaign in the province” and “by virtue of command responsibility he decided to relieve the said key officers.”

Cervo said Chief Superintendent Reynaldo Rafal, Caraga regional police chief, has been asked to explain the high incidence of illegal logging activities in Agusan del Sur.

“The regional director is not completely off the hook yet as well as other officials in the region like Agusan del Norte Provincial Director Sr.. Supt Eugenio Paguirigan,” he said, adding Bartolome’s order “does not end there since we are still looking into the situation in Caraga region.”

Cervo explained that the action undertaken by the PNP leadership is only the beginning in the nationwide campaign against illegal logging operations.

During his visit to Butuan City on June 26, Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo demanded an explanation from the PNP why the illegal logging in the province has continued even after he ordered an investigation following the largest confiscation of illegal logs on June 4.

President Aquino issued Executive Order 23 early last year declaring a nationwide log ban.

In his speech during the 25th Anniversary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources at the Heroes Hall of the Malacanang Palace on June 19,  Aquino said he has directed the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Justice and the DENR to put behind bars those who violate the ban.

In Pilipino, the President said, “It has reached us that there are those who do not believe we are serious in our logging ban. They have continued logging, some of them in cahoots with government workers.”

He ordered the secretaries of the three departments to – DILG, DOJ and DENR – “to help and think, plan, how to strengthen the campaign against illegal logging and to ensure there will be more convictions among the violators. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)