Release of village chief’s truck caught carrying illegal logs slammed
AGUSAN DEL SUR, Philippines — Officials of a local environment agency here have decided to release a 10-wheeler truck, owned by a barangay (village) chairman and apprehended last month for carrying “hot logs” felled inside the Mt. Magdiwata watershed.
A resolution signed by the foresters of Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the local police chief and the municipal environment and natural resources officer of the local government has allowed the temporary release of the truck owned by Barangay Chairman Jose Necresio Orapa of the Libertad village in neighboring Prosperidad town.
Elmer Luzon, manager of the San Francisco Water District (SFWD), refused to sign the resolution, saying the move was a mockery of the serious implementation of environmental laws. He believed the document was haphazardly done to give in to the political pressure exerted by an influential local official in Prosperidad town.
“We never discussed the resolution during the administrative proceedings,” Luzon said, explaining that he did not sign because the document was hurriedly done and did not go through the proper procedures.
Alejandra Boiser, acting local DENR chief, said they agreed to release the truck after Oropa complied with the requirements, including the payment of surety bond. Boiser added that the village official claimed he had no knowledge that his truck was being hired to transport the ill-gotten falcatta logs.
The SFWD considers this case important because the same forest products were believed to be the reasons why a casual worker of the municipal environment and natural resources office attempted to kill SFWD forest ranger Bonifacio Narca.
Father Artemio Jusayan, parish priest of the Sacred Heart of Jesus church, called for the proper implementation of environment laws.
“The SFWD should file a petition questioning the release of the truck,” he said.
Jusayan doubted Oropa’s claim that he was not aware of the illegal logs loaded onto his truck by a certain Judito Pintado who has been facing several illegal logging and illegal mining cases lodged by SFWD.
“If you are the owner of the truck and has known the trade for a long time, would you just allow your truck to transport illegal logs?” Jusayan said.
He said the parish has been active in advocating environmental concerns as Pope Francis has called on the clergy to take part in the protection of the environment.
On a positive note, church leaders of different denominations will sign Tuesday a covenant printed on a billboard size tarpaulin during a tree planting activity to seriously commit themselves to the protection of Mt. Magdiwata against environmental abuse.
Jusayan will lead the ecumenical covenant signing for the serious commitment to protect Mt. Magdiwata.
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