Butuan authorities hopeful to win conviction vs. illegal logger

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/27 Sept) – The regional director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. have expressed optimism that the case filed against the owner of a warehouse where a huge volume of Lauan lumber was found would succeed and thus send a message that the government is serious in its campaign against illegal logging in the region.

DENR Regional Executive Director and Assistant Secretary Marlo Mendoza closely supervises safekeeping of the seized Lauan lumber at the warehouse of the Datu Kalinga Alternative Energy Corporation (DKAEC) 26 September 2012. The warehouse was raided the day before. Charges have been filed against DKAEC owner Roland Selbario. MindaNews photo by Erwin MascariñasOn Tuesday afternoon, the raiding team – composed of members of the Anti-illegal logging Task Force (AILTF) with personnel from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Butuan City Police Office (BCPO) – discovered at least 20,000 board feet of Lauan lumber and thousands more of Lauan flitches hidden underneath waste lumber at the warehouse of the Datu Kalinga Alternative Energy Corporation (DKAEC).

The morning after, authorities promptly filed a case against Roland Seblario (also known as “Jhero King”), owner of DKAEC, for violation of Presidential Decree 705 (Revised Forestry Code).

Authorities are hopeful they will finally have their first conviction against an illegal logging suspect in the whole of Caraga Region.

But Seblario said he has the proper documents supporting his possession of the lumber.

DENR Regional Executive Director and Assistant Secretary Marlo Mendoza, who personally inspected the warehouse compound and coordinated the retrieval operation of all the seized forest products, pointed out that “no matter how hard they hide and conceal their illegal operations, eventually they will get caught.”

But he did admit that illegal loggers are “very creative” in concealing their lumber, and thus urged law enforcers to “be more creative” in their search for illegal forest products. “Here you can see that they really had the intention to conceal [the lumber]. They covered it with scrap wood and slabs so that when you look from afar, you will assume that there is nothing underneath it,” said Mendoza.

“We hope that the people, together with the media, will take interest in the case and keep a close eye as it unfolds, to insure that there will be no whitewash in the case filed against the suspected illegal logger,” said Amante. (Erwin Mascariñas / MindaNews)

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