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Cutting of mangrove leads to charges

/ 09:12 PM August 18, 2011

Officials of the National Power Corp. and of a construction firm are facing criminal charges at the Sandiganbayan for cutting mangrove trees in Puerto Princesa to build transmission lines in 2008.

Charged with violating the Philippine Fisheries Code were ex-Napocor president Cyril Del Callar, Napocor Palawan projects manager Romualdo Consigna and Harold Laureta, Francisco Madera and Russel Ferrer of S.L. Development Construction Corp.

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Their recommended bail was P24,000 each.

The Office of the Ombudsman filed the charges against the five after reversing the findings of the Puerto Princesa prosecution office that had dismissed the complaint against them.

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The complaint for the cutting of mangroves was first filed by Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn in 2008.

Hagedorn had alleged that the Napocor officials got the services of S.L Development to unlawfully clear 12,000 square meters of mangroves, consisting of 196 trees, in Barangay Lucbuan in Puerto Princesa.

The mangroves were cut down to pave the way for the installation of Napocor transmission lines and towers. According to Hagedorn, this was a violation of the Fisheries Code that penalizes the conversion of mangroves.

The Puerto Princesa prosecution office had dismissed the complaint because the complainant failed to prove that the mangroves were converted into fishponds or used for any other purpose.

But according to the Office of the Ombudsman, the documentary evidence against the officials of Napocor and S.L. Development were sufficient to show probable cause to file the charges in court.

These include the statements of employees of the environment department who witnessed the cutting of the mangrove trees, the seizure receipt for one chain saw, 1,102 pieces of bakawan timber, the photographs of the seized timber and copies of land use and tree cutting permits.

These, according to the Office of the Ombudsman, “demonstrate that mangrove trees were cut and that the mangrove area was actually converted for the purpose of giving way for the installation of transmission lines.”

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TAGS: Forest, mangrove, NAPOCOR, Puerto Princesa
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