CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 31 October) — The police in Surigao del Sur on Wednesday intercepted PhP1.2-million worth of lumber and furniture made from the endangered mangkono, the Philippine iron wood.
Lt. Col. Christian Rafols II, Caraga regional police spokesperson, said five suspects were arrested after they could not produce any document for the lumber and furniture.
Rafols identified them as Alfredo M. Delambaca, 42 years old, driver, a resident of Igpit, Opol, Misamis Oriental; Apple Esmeralda, 21, of Pagadian City; Eugene James A. Jantica, 32, of Jasaan, Misamis Oriental; Charlito Esmeralda, 19, of Pagadian City; and Ian Christian Renoblas, 18, of Impasug-ong, Bukidnon.
Mangkono (Xanthostemon verdugonianus) is categorized in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red list 2018 as “vulnerable” due to its decreasing population.
The IUCN noted that at the border of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, “which is known for their ultramafic soil, the species grows copiously along the road like the bushy Santan” but large trees of the species are now “becoming more scarce.”
According to the IUCN, it is estimated that over the last three generations, mangkono “has experienced a population reduction of between 30 and 49% due to felling of the species for timber and also due to clearance of the species habitat caused by mining activities.”
Former President Benigno Aquino III issued Executive Order no. 23 declaring a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber, in the natural and residual forests, such as mangkono.
Rafols said the policemen manning a checkpoint stopped a truck at Barangay Adlay, Carrascal, Surigao del Sur last Wednesday.
He said upon closer inspection, the police officers found the lumber and furniture made from felled mangkono trees.
“The suspects were not able to produce any document so they were arrested and the cargo seized,” Rafols said.
He estimated the seized lumber and furniture to be worth PhP1.25 million.
Seized, according to Rafols, were 18 pieces of mangkono lumber with volume of 4,909.97 board feet amounting to PhP343,697.90; two Cleopatra sala sets worth PhP170,000 (at PhP85,000 each); seven door jambs worth PhP21,000 (at PhP3,000 each); eight table stands worth PhP240,000 (at PhP30,000 each); 64 chairs worth PhP320,000 (at PhP5,000 each); seven panel doors worth PhP105,000 (at PhP15,000 each); 16 coffee sets worth PhP24,000 (at PhP1,500 each); six wine sets at PhP18,000 (PhP3,000 each) and five rice bowls worth PhP12,500 (at PhP2,500).
He said criminal cases for violating Presidential Decree no.705, or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, will be filed against the five suspects. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)