IN THE KNOW: Alfonso Lim Sr.
ALFONSO Lim Sr., who died in February 1995, was an ardent supporter of former President Ferdinand Marcos since his bid for the Senate in the early 1960s.
He was among those rewarded with timber license agreements (TLA) and allowed to control more than 100,000 hectares of land for a period of 25 years.
Lim controlled logging operations in over 600,000 ha in northern Luzon and took over adjacent logging companies through corporate raids authorized by Marcos, reducing the forest cover on the country’s main island.
Lim owned Taggat Industries, a 107,845-ha concession in Cagayan province first set up in 1947, and Pamplona Redwood Veneer Inc., another concession in the area.
He also held shares in Southern Plywood Corp., Western Cagayan Lumber Company Inc. and Acme Plywood & Veneer Company Inc.
With these companies, Lim had access to a total of 533,880 ha in addition to the 100,000 ha of forest lands located in between his different concessions.
In March 1979, Lim took over Veterans Woodworks Inc. (VWI) and its affiliates—Tropical Philippines Wood Industries and Sierra Madre Wood Industries—through a “showdown” in a tense meeting with the board of directors of the three companies.
Formed in 1971 by a group of retired veteran military officers, VWI was awarded a logging concession in several municipalities in Cagayan by Marcos.
When the board of directors of the three companies wanted to correct the defects in the contract, Lim said “the contract was approved by the President,” according to the book “The Politics of Environment in Southeast Asia,” citing the Presidential Commission on Good Government’s (PCGG) record of the minutes of the meeting of the board.
A management contract granting Taggat Industries full control of the three companies for five years was eventually signed. When it expired in 1985, the contract was renewed, also with the permission of Marcos.
According to the book “Power from the Forest: The Politics of Logging,” Marcos personally looked into the operations of VWI once it was under Lim’s management.
Marcos also used the TLA to placate Muslim rebel returnees and buy peace. In exchange for returning back to the fold, Marcos gave the ex-rebels license to cut trees in the forests of Mindanao.
According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the certificates of registration of both Taggat Industries Inc. and Pamplona Redwood Veneer Inc. has been revoked since May 26, 2003. Inquirer Research
Sources: Inquirer Archives, Power from the Forest: The Politics of Logging, The Politics of Environment in Southeast Asia, SEC website