DENR clears wood shipment from Basilan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 September) – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has cleared of any violation the mahogany and gmelina shipment from Basilan province that were seized two weeks ago by the Philippine Navy while being delivered to this city aboard a cargo vessel.

Elvira Lumayag, officer-in-charge of the DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Glan, Sarangani, said Tuesday the results of their verification and inspection showed that the shipment did not include any premium or endangered wood species as earlier suspected by local Naval personnel.

She said they completed on Monday the inventory and scaling of the shipment, which were loaded on cargo vessel M/V Somahi, and they so far turned out in proper order.

Lumayag said the shipment only comprised mahogany flitches and poles as well as 18-foot gmelina poles.

“These are all from trees that were planted in a private land. A certificate of verification was earlier issued by the CENRO in Zamboanga City attesting that the shipment was sourced from a titled property,” she said in a radio interview.

She said the certification, which was issued by CENRO-West chief Ben Acana, also included a copy of the land title under the name Hadji Mashur Ismael of Isabela City in Basilan, where the shipment was verified to have been sourced.

Navy patrol gunboat 114 BRP Salvador Abcede intercepted the shipment aboard cargo vessel M/V Somahi last Sept. 12 while it was about to enter the Sarangani Bay.
Cmdr. Lued Lincuna, RP Salvador Abcede commander, said they stopped the shipment near Tampat point off the coasts of Maasim town in Sarangani province due to a tip that it supposedly included illegally-cut premium logs.

Lincuna said the vessel’s officers and crew presented documents indicating that the shipment was composed of 2,963 round poles and flitches of mahogany and gmelina but noted that they failed to show a log sales invoice, log supply contract, forest officer’s markings, and that the tally sheet of the shipment were supposedly questionable.
The shipment was immediately re-routed to Glan town in Sarangani to undergo verification and inventory by the DENR.
Lumayag said the unloading, inventory and scaling of the shipment at the Glan port were properly witnessed by Naval personnel.

She said a team from the National Bureau of Investigation-Sarangani District Office also made a verification of the shipment as they were reportedly tipped off by their counterparts in Basilan regarding its supposed inclusion of premium logs.
“They did not find anything lawaan or yakal logs inserted in the shipment as indicated by the intelligence information that they received,” Lumayag said.

The official said CENRO-Sarangani’s forestry division is set to conduct a review of the shipment’s scaling and inventory data to establish its total volume and value.
She said they will make a final report on the matter and submit it to the DENR Region 12 director for decision and proper action.
When eventually cleared by the DENR regional office, Lumayag said they will immediately inform the Philippine Navy about the matter to allow the shipment to proceed to this city, which was its indicated port of destination.
The shipment was consigned to the Patwood Processing Plant Inc., a wood processing plant based in Barangay San Isidro here.
The plant, which is operated by the Amadeo family here, also owns the
cargo vessel. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)