Police seizes illegal lumber in Sarangani

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 Jan) – Police operatives in Sarangani Province recovered around 3,000 board feet of illegally-cut lumber that were reportedly sourced from naturally-grown tree species in the mountains of Malapatan town.

Insp. Rodel Javison, deputy chief of the Malapatan police station, said Thursday they intercepted the assorted lumber while these were being moved towards the town’s coastal area by way of a river in Barangay Tuyan on Wednesday.

He said they discovered the illegally-cut lumber, which were initially valued at P150,000, based on a tip from concerned residents regarding some forest products that were being moved down from the mountains.

Upon verification, he said they found the lumber and flitches abandoned near a portion of the river in Purok Star Apple in Barangay Tuyan, Malapatan.

He said they brought the recovered lumber to the Malapatan police station compound for safekeeping.

Javison said illegal loggers operating in the area had been using the area’s rivers to transport logs, lumber and wood flitches towards the coasts of Sarangani Bay.

He said their owners or handlers later load them up in small cargo boats and deliver them to buyers based in this city.

“They’ve (illegal loggers) been using these routes to avoid the checkpoints along the highways,” the official said.

Javison said they are currently conducting a deeper investigation on the matter, focusing on the identification of the owners of the recovered lumber and other personalities involved in the illegal logging activities in the area.

Elvie Lumayag, officer-in-charge of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) based in Glan town in Sarangani, said their initial verification showed that the recovered lumber were from naturally-grown tree species.

She said they comprise white lawaan, amogis, guijo and maligang, some of which were estimated at about 50 years old.

“These were from premium species and the cutting of these trees was prohibited by the President himself,” she said.

Lumayag was referring to Executive Order 23 issued in 2011 by President Benigno S. Aquino III that declared a “moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests” in the country.

The order was issued in light of widespread flooding and landslides in various parts of the country, which the national government blamed on the rampant illegal logging activities. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)