By Jeffrey Damicog
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has stopped an illegal logging operation in Agusan del Norte which is believed owned by a town mayor.
NBI Environmental Crime Division (EnCD) chief Eric Nuque led a raid on February 23 of a sawmill in Las Nieves, Agusan del Norte.
During the operation, NBI agents arrested three sawmill employees identified as Joel Socobos, Wenifredo Brenbuela and Reynaldo Monforte.
The agents also seized P1.2 million worth of naturally-grown and planted timbers as well as P9 million worth of equipment and conveyances used in the processing of the illegal logs.
Nuque said the owner of the sawmill is Dapa, Surigao del Norte Mayor Peter Ruaya.
The NBI official said Ruaya has been operating the sawmill for five or six years without any permits.
“As far as this case is concerned medyo solid ang evidence natin dahil sya mismo ang nag-apply at DENR mismo may certification na na-deny siya (We have a solid case since he himself applied for permits but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has certified he got denied),” he said.
On the other hand, Nuque said Las Nieves local government may be held liable for having not taken action against the sawmill.
“On the part of the local government it’s up to them to explain siguro dahil ito ay nakuha sa kanilang bakuran (because these were found in their backyard),” he said.
Meanwhile, Nuque said a case has been filed against Ruaya and three arrested persons before the Agusan del Norte Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for violating Section 68 of Presidential Decree 705, the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
The three arrested sawmill workers are currently detained at the Agusan del Norte Provincial Jail.