DENR starts probe of logs diverted to mayor’s housePhilippine Daily Inquirer
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has begun investigating the supposed release in July of a municipal dump truck that the agency had seized after it was used to deliver illegal lumber to a house being built by a mayor in Bataan in January 2011.
The investigation began as Maximo Dichoso, DENR executive director in Central Luzon, issued a memorandum ordering Amado Villanueva, the agency’s head in Bataan, to explain why he ordered the police to put an Isuzu Elf truck under the custody of Bagac Mayor Rommel del Rosario.
In the memorandum, Dichoso reminded Villanueva that the truck is part of the evidence in the criminal case filed by his predecessor, Ricardo Lazaro, against Del Rosario.
Filed on Jan. 8, 2011, the case for alleged illegal possession of forest products has not been resolved by the Balanga City prosecutor.
The truck has been seen collecting garbage in the town for over two weeks now, he said.
Villanueva and Del Rosario did not take calls or reply to text messages.
Del Rosario had said the 709 board feet of lumber were “escorted by the police en route to Camp Tolentino in Balanga City for turnover to the police.”
A mini-sawmill with fresh shavings were seen beside the mayor’s house that was being built at the time of the raid, a DENR report showed.
The truck and lumber were covered by a seizure order issued by former DENR Regional Executive Director Ricardo Calderon, now head of the Forest Management Bureau.
Calderon, in a Sept. 7, 2011, order, said that as a matter of policy, all seized forest products, including the vehicles used to haul these, should be turned over to the DENR.
“Such policy was not observed in this particular case,” Calderon said in his order. It said “the hearing committee was convinced that anomalies … had transpired.”
The case led to the relief of the Bagac police chief who could not account for 1,896 board feet of the seized 3,076 board feet of lumber. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon