KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 22 February)—Police and environment officials in Makilala, North Cotabato seized a truckload of illegal lumber aboard a government-owned truck at around 11 p.m. Thursday.
Walter Ruizo, Makilala environment officer, said the wood products, mostly Lawaan species, were cut three weeks ago in Sitio Kapatagan, some seven kilometers from the center of Barangay Luayon.
The government dump truck carrying the timbers bears the license plate SJN 142, he said.
Barangay Luayon is a valley southeast of Makilala town and can be reached by traversing Taluntalunan-Dako River, which is “an exceptionally resource-rich watershed,” the Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Office said.
The wood products, cut in various sizes, were loaded along with a stockpile of limestone, Ruizo said
Ruizo said that Barangay Luayon chairman Rable Ramirez was on board the truck when it was intercepted along the highway by authorities.
During the investigation, Ramirez admitted to authorities he knew the cutting of trees in his village, Ruizo said.
“It was sad that the chairman himself helped transport these wood products using the vehicle the municipal government had assigned to him,” said Ruizo.
Ramirez was not immediately available for comments.
Citing the statement of the village chief, Ruizo said the sawn woods were set to be delivered to RNF Summit Woodworking Shop at Barangay San Vicente, also in Makilala town.
Authorities were readying charges of violation of the Forestry Code and the Chainsaw Law against Ramirez, the truck driver and its helper.
Ruizo also said they will file administrative complaints against the village chairman for using a government-owned vehicle in transporting the illegal wood products.
The truck and the timbers were placed under the custody of the Makilala police.
Police released Ramirez after taking his statement. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)