The National Bureau of Investigation has filed illegal logging charges before the Department of Justice (DOJ) against a town mayor in Caraga for allegedly operating a wood processing plant and mini-sawmill for years without permits.
Facing a complaint for possession without permit of forest products and illegal operation of wood-processing plant and sawmill in violation of Presidential Decree No. 705, or the Forestry Law of the Philippines are Dapa, Surigao del Norte Mayor Peter Ruaya and three others.
Armed with a search warrant, combined operatives of the NBI’s Environmental Crime Division and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Caraga region raided the compound of Sumidlak Mini-Sawmill and Veneering Plant along Agusan River in Barangay Mat-i, Las Nieves town, in Agusan del Norte.
The Feb. 23 operation against the wood-processing firm, owned by Ruaya led to the seizure of a still undetermined amount of undocumented naturally grown round logs of red lauan species and other miscellaneous forest trees hidden beneath waste lumber inside the compound.
The raiding team also intercepted illegally cut logs left abandoned along the banks of Agusan river, which has long been known as a transshipment point for illegal forest products from Agusan del Sur bound for Butuan City and nearby areas.
The mayor was not in his establishment when the raid was conducted.
Lawyer Eric Nuqui, chief of NBI’s environmental crime division said the timber used as raw materials for the production of veneer came from questionable sources and it is operating with an expired license.
Ruaya has yet to issue a statement regarding the NBI’s filing of cases as of posting time.
Caraga is known as the country’s timber corridor and supplies the bulk of the country’s timber and wood product requirements.
It is among timber-rich areas covered by the nationwide ban on logging that was issued amid widespread illegal cutting of trees that has long been blamed on corruption in the DENR and involvement of powerful politicians. By GD