Hardwood dealer faces raps for illegal logging
TINAMBAC, Camarines Sur— Trying to outwit the agents of the National Bureau of Investigation, a local dealer of hardwood and operator of a furniture shop has turned the graveyard in this town into a lumberyard, where more than 3,000 board feet of assorted hardwood from second-growth forest was discovered early Friday morning.
Tomas Enrile, acting NBI Bicol director, said it was the biggest haul in a month this year in the campaign against illegal logging that had netted nearly 10,000 board feet of hardwood.
He said a certain Mariano Clapis had been under surveillance since July 2, after they confiscated some 6,000 board feet of hardwood lumber along Tamban River in this town that was said to be owned by Clapis.
Enrile said that when they launched the operation early Friday after the court’s approval of a search warrant, they found that the thousands of board feet of lumber, which had earlier been confirmed to be stocked in Clapis’ warehouse, was already gone.
He said they almost lost hope of retrieving the illegal lumber when NBI agents tried to scour the back of the establishment where the town’s cemetery was located.
Enrile said they found 3,000 board feet of hardwood hidden beneath leaves, twigs and grass in the graveyard.
Clapis eluded arrest as he was not in his establishment when the raid was conducted.
Enrile said they would file criminal charges against Clapis for possession without permit of forest products in violation of Presidential Decree No. 705, or the Forestry Law of the Philippines, which metes a minimum 12-year prison term.
He said the pieces of lumber stocked in Clapis’ warehouse were covered by a moratorium because these came from the forest and the government did not issue a permit for these.
“The government allows the cutting of trees for commercial and domestic use only from privately established tree farms,” Enrile said.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.