Syndicate eyed behind illegal logging in Oro

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Sunday, April 13, 2014


A WELL-ENTRENCHED syndicate may be behind the rampant illegal logging activities in the city’s upland villages, said the head of the City Local Environment and Natural Resources Office (Clenro) in Cagayan de Oro City.

Edwin Dael, Clenro chief, said the logging syndicate involves a financier who bankrolls the operations, an insider at the environment office who can tamper a permit for the transportation of logs, and village residents who are paid a measly amount to do the cutting of trees.

‘Dansolihon-Talakag’ connection

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In an intelligence report Dael received, the group behind this is known as the “Dansolihon-Talakag connection” that he suspects to be responsible for threatening him and his fellow Clenro workers for their anti-logging efforts.

“We are slowly piecing together the events so we can get to the bottom of this,” Dael told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Sunday afternoon.

Dael has a list of the persons behind these illegal logging operations but he could not yet release it to the media pending further investigation and verification.

He is certain that the transporting of illegally cut lumber using a “recycled” permit that can pass through the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) checkpoint in Barangay Lumbia without question is the handiwork of a syndicate.

But to further prove and eventually uncover the activities of this syndicate, Dael said he has to dig deeper and do more investigating.

Dael and city councilor Zaldy Ocon, chairman of the City Council’s environment and natural resources committee, are set to conduct an ocular inspection in the next few days to substantiate the report that cut logs equivalent to 30 truckloads lying by the roadside in Barangay Tignapoloan are ready to be transported.

Dael would present his findings to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Northern Mindanao (DENR-10) regional executive director Ruth Tawantawan, specifically on the allegation that a legitimate permit is being tampered and used again to transport illegally cut logs.

He said he is wondering why the loggers could get away with the transporting of the cut lumber using a tampered permit.

“We will prove that there are permits which are recycled,” he said.

A recycled permit is actually a legal piece of paper issued by the Cenro in Talakag, Bukidnon to people who cut trees in DENR-approved areas under the Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) scheme in Talakag, Dael said.

The permit only becomes illegal when it is used again to transport cut lumber that did not come from Talakag but from Cagayan de Oro.

Dael added that for a fee, a permit could be manipulated to make it look like nothing has been tampered with in the details.

But, he said, the discrepancy shows when the information contained on the permit does not coincide with the actual cargo. Dael said this (discrepancy) is the reason why they had been successful in confiscating illegally transported logs.

Aside from that, Dael will also ask DENR-10 to find out what happened to one of the confiscated two trucks filled with cut lumber that went missing which allegedly came from Pigsag-an.

To his knowledge, Dael said there are no more big trees in Pigsag-an. “Our suspicion is that those logs came from [Barangay] Tumpagon,” he said.

Dael also heard reports that some members of the Indigenous People (IP) communities in the city’s mountain villages are being hired by the syndicate to cut the forest trees.

He said these people are paid for every tree cut to haul them to pick-up areas.

These local residents are doing the hard labor and yet they are paid a measly fee.

“They (lumad) live on a ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence. The money they earned from illegal logging has not improved their lives,” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on April 14, 2014.

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