THE fight is not over for Baguio City Representative Nicasio Aliping Jr. who along with three other contractors were recently held liable by the Department of Justice for the tree cutting in Mt. Santo Tomas.

Aliping told Sun.Star Baguio he respects the recent verdict of the DOJ but said he will undertake legal measures in response.

"We maintain our innocence on the charges and let due process takes it course," he said.

He added that despite the decision, he will continue his public service.

"We continue our sobriety and service to the people of Baguio City," he said.

The DOJ, through assistant state prosecutor Gilmarie Fe Pacamarra found probable cause that respondents Aliping; Willie Go of Goldrich Construction and Trading; Engr. Romeo Aquino of RUA Construction; and Bernard Capuyan of BLC Construction committed violations if the PD 705 of the Revised Philippine Forestry Code through several reasons based on their counter-affidavits, communication letters and other evidences relevant to the tree cutting in Mt. Santo Tomas.

Pacamarra highlighted in the decision that Aliping, although did not show any document to support his claim, acknowledged ownership over the subject area of the case which happens to be part of the declared forest reservation way back 1940.

The prosecutor also underscored that while Aliping claimed he tried to seek for endorsement from the barangay council and secure an excavation permit, he still pursued his operation within his property.

Based on the communication letters Aliping sent to Tuba mayor Florencio Bentrez, he told the latter that he will undertake mitigating measures to prevent further damage and will eventually stop the activities in his property.

"Clearly, respondent knew that he was doing something wrong," Pacamarra noted in the decision.

"All these circumstances are so interwoven and point to no other conclusion but that respondent Aliping, Jr. caused the cutting, gathering, collection or removal of timber or forest products in the subject area without any permit, in blatant violation of the law," the decision concluded.

As for the contractors, while they claimed that they were not aware their equipment were being used in the subject area, the decision stated they failed to show any proof of sale or lease in their counter-affidavits.

"Their unsubstantiated allegations deserve scant consideration. Clearly, they have acted in conspiracy with respondent Aliping, Jr. and they should be held similarly liable thereto," it said.

Aliping said he will avail legal remedy on this matter as the case is not over yet.

The case was endorsed to the Office of the Environmental Ombudsman by the DOJ for further disposition and/or appropriate action considering Aliping is a public official with a 31-salary grade.