EVIDENCE. Some of the illegal logs found floating on a river in La Paz, Agusan del Sur province —401st Army Brigade photo
By CHRIS V. PANGANIBAN
SAN Francisco, Agusan del Sur--The illegal cutting of trees continue in the Caraga region, despite a nationwide log ban that remained enforce after then President Benigno Aquino III ordered it in 2011.
Aquino issued the total ban through Executive Order No. 23 last February 2011 to address forest denudation.
He also issued EO 26 which created the National Greening Program to start a massive tree replanting program.
A team from the military and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) discovered on Friday at least 100 round logs, the latest sign of continued cutting of trees in the area.
The logs were seized by the team in La Paz town, Agusan del Sur, a province which relies heavily on woodcraft industries.
Capt. Rodulfo Cordero Jr., spokesperson of the Army’s 401st Infantry Brigade based in Agusan del Sur, said the logs were found floating on Adgaon River, Barangay Poblacion in La Paz.
Cordero said an informant tipped off authorities about the presence of the logs on the river.
The logs, Cordero said, were believed to have been from trees cut in remote areas of San Luis, another Agusan del Sur town, and La Paz.
They were “flushed downstream by heavy rains,” Cordero said.
The identity of the logs’ owners had not been known yet, he said.
Lt. Col. Rommel Pagayon, commanding officer of the 26th Infantry Battalion, said the sharing of information, which led to the seizure of the logs, was a sign that residents of San Luis had become concerned over illegal logging in the hinterlands of the town.
Col. Andres Centino, commander of the 401st Infantry Brigade, said soldiers would continue to support the government’s antilogging drive.
The DENR said it also continued to target illegal logs being brought to wood processing plants in Agusan del Sur.
Market for logs
Criminal charges had been filed against five people involved in the processing of illegal logs in different areas of Caraga since April 14.
Among the biggest catch was 41,283 pieces of lumber — with a total volume of 269.82 cubic meters (114,345 board feet) — seized from matchwood factory Philippine Softwood Products Inc. The factory had since been padlocked.
Eric Gallego, DENR Caraga information officer, said other illegally acquired logs were being turned into furniture by unscrupulous processors in the region.
Lawyer Felix Alicer, DENR Caraga director, said officials were trying to reduce the number of processing firms that use illegally acquired forest products.
“This illegal cutting and harvest of trees will continue for as long as there are available markets,” Alicer said.
He said officials hoped to deny illegal loggers a market for their products “so that timber poaching and smuggling would be stopped.”
Staying true to its promise of bringing the services closer to the people, Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) has opened its 67th branch in Agusan del Sur recently. “Napakalayong lugar ito kaya nga dapat magkaroon ng isang branch doon para mabigyan ng tulong ang ating mga kababayan...