LOCAL authorities apprehended seven suspected illegal loggers in the boundary between Bulacan and Rizal watershed, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported.
The arrest was the result of the massive anti-illegal logging operation of the combined operatives of the DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources (Cenro) based in Guiguinto, Bulacan and the DENR regional office Enforcement Division, the 48th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Philippine Army (PA) and the Angat Watershed Area Team (Awat) of the National Power Corporation (NPC).
DENR-Cenro head Rolly Mulato said the suspects were caught while hauling illegally-cut lumber flitches using horses and "kolong-kolong" in Mount Balabag and Sitio Pulang Lupa in Barangay San Isidro, San Jose del Monte, Bulacan and in Sitio Ilas, Barangay Makaingalan in Rodriguez, Rizal.
"The style of this individual is to illegally cut trees here in Ipo watershed portion of Bulacan and transport it down to a near village in Rodriguez, Rizal where they will try to sell it," he said.
Mulato identified the suspects as Diego Agudes Esto, Marlon Inggo Keling, Armando Agudes Esto, Ian Hermosa Lagos, Ronel Asiong Cocoy, Melvin Alacha Caballero, and Apolinario Avener Jr. De Asis, all from Puroy village in Rodriguez, Rizal.
Isagani Navalta, chief of the enforcement section of Cenro Guiguinto, said a total of 1,750 board feet of illegally-cut flitches of lumber worth P61,250, including four horses, two multi-cabs, and a motorized "kolong-kolong," were also seized from the suspects.
The DENR appealed to the public to report any illegal forest activities in the forests and watersheds of Bulacan to save the remaining forests of the province.
The DENR is now preparing to file criminal charges against the suspects for violation of the Forestry Code of the Philippines or Presidential Decree (PD) 705.
Earlier, five suspected illegal loggers were also arrested by the joint operatives of the DENR-Cenro, Baliwag in Bulacan, Philippine National Police (PNP) of Dona Remedios Trinidad (DRT) in Bulacan and the NPC-Awat in the forested area of Camachin village in DRT during an anti-illegal logging operation.
The more than 6,000-hectare Ipo watershed is part of the much larger Angat watershed, which supplies the 97 percent water requirement of over 13 million population of Metro Manila.