2 Chinese, 2 Filipinos held for purchase of endangered tree species
ORMOC CITY—Two Chinese nationals and two Filipinos were arrested for allegedly buying pieces of agar, an endangered tree species around 9 p.m. on Sunday (June 16) at the village of Burabod-an, Abuyog town in Leyte province.
Police Capt. Ronald Espina, chief of the Abuyog police, identified the suspects as Shiseng Chen, 34; Jiancong Zhu, 33; Leo Lim, 36; and Grace Ann Austria, 34.
Espina said in a phone interview that police were tipped off by a confidential agent about the trade of agar wood wedges, locally known as lanete or lapnisan, at the village of Burabod-an.
A team was formed to check the tip, Espina said.
At the area, the team found the four suspects carrying agar wedges weighing more than 9 kilograms and worth at least P400,000.
Investigators have yet to identify the seller of the endangered tree pieces. Espina said the four suspects refused to talk and demanded a lawyer.
Police in Abuyog, however, was already preparing a case of violation of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines against the four.
Agarwood, aloeswood or gharuwood is a fragrant dark resinous wood used in incense, perfume and small carvings. It is formed in the heartwood of aquilaria trees when they become infected with a type of mould.
Agar wood is sought after primarily for its warming qualities and for its soothing effects when burnt as incense. Powdered form of the species is also used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting and anorexia. (Editor: Tony Bergonia)
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