Massive timber-poaching claim ‘not true’-A A +A
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
THE Task Force Ilahas (TFI) of Negros Occidental denied the claim that there is “massive timber poaching” within the Northern Negros Natural Park (NNNP).
"It's not true," said TFI action officer Gabriel Gutierrez in his report submitted to the Capitol.
Ilahas' report showed that they conducted an investigation of the allegations on September 7, where they talked with village chief Jeremias Diotay of Marcelo, Calatrava who "categorically denied" the allegations of Board Member Rolando Ponsica.
Ponsica said there is "massive timber poaching activity in his barangay or in other parts of the NNNP that is perpetrated by Ali Divino.”
"As far as he could remember from his conversation with Ponsica, he only told the board member that Divino was once cautioned for buying 10 sacks of charcoal from Bobby de Asis, a resident of Barangay Marcelo who failed to request the required barangay certification," the report read.
The incident, the report further read, "was already settled between him and Divino," and "it happened sometime in November 2011."
Diotay "was even surprised to hear the news from the radio dragging his name as the source of information of Ponsica," adding that "he was misquoted and clears the person of Mr. Ali Divino in the timber poaching activity scandal," the report read.
The barangay captain committed to appear before any investigating body to put the record straight that he never said that Divino is the leader of the massive timber poaching activity as alleged by Ponsica.
Gutierrez's TFI team also talked with barangay captain Virgie Bacordo of Bagong Silang, Don Salvador Benedicto, who said that he personally knows Divino and "he could vouch of his integrity and he is not in any way involved in timber poaching..."
Bacordo, the report read, called Ponsica after he heard of his "expose" on Sept. 6 to "dispute his allegation."
He added that Ponsica told him that he relied on the information of Diotay "and did not realize that it is not accurate since he did no longer bother to confirm it from other sources."
Divino "was saddened by the statement of Ponsica linking him as involved in the timber poaching activities."
"..if only Ponsica is prudent enough to verify his information before his exposes, he could have avoided the trouble that he caused his family," the report quoted Divino.
The report also said that "timber poaching and charcoal making inside NNNP is existing over the years, several hectares of good forest were already damaged because of unabated cutting of forest cover and converting it into agricultural use."
"Access to the area is hard because of its remoteness, but the fact that there are residents living inside makes it very vulnerable to poaching. On and Off enforcement method could not catch up with the timber poachers," it added.
The TFI welcomed the "desire of Ponsica to brought up what is happening inside the NNNP," but he should have checked his facts before mentioning names, "except if there are other motives for the expose."
The report was signed by Senior Police 4 Stanley Mendoza and Gutierrez and copies were sent to the Committee on Environment of the Provincial Council, the Provincial Environment Management Officer, Provincial Police Office, and the Provincial Environment Natural Resources Office.
Valencia said a copy of the report will also be given to Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr.
"It will be up to Divino to take whatever action he may want to take," he said.
"Forest protection is the task of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that is why all those caught violating environment laws are referred to them," he added.
I understand that the DENR lacks personnel, that is why during the meeting with them last week, I asked them it is irritating that those we arrest for lacking the required papers are released after the DENR gives them permits in the afternoon, Valencia said.
The NNNP, consisting of the hinterland areas of Cadiz, Victorias, Sagay, Silay, San Carlos and Talisay cities, and the municipalities of Murcia, EB Magalona,Toboso, Calatrava and Don Salvador Benedicto, has a remaining forest cover of 30,178.7 hectares.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 10, 2013.