MANILAThe National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on Friday said operatives of the Bureau's Environmental Crime Division (EnCD) arrested three persons for illegal logging operations and seized timber and equipment worth PHP10 million in Agusan del Norte.
EnCD chief Eric Nuque said the suspectsJoel Socobos, Wenifredo Brenbuela and Reynaldo Monfortewere nabbed during a raid in a sawmill in Las Nieves on February 23.
Nuque said that during the operation, the agents also seized PHP1.2 million worth of naturally-grown and planted timbers as well as PHP9 million worth of equipment and conveyances used in the processing of the illegal logs.
The three men, all sawmill workers, are detained at the Agusan del Norte Provincial Jail.
Nuque said the sawmill, where the suspects work, is owned by Dapa, Surigao del Norte Mayor Peter Ruaya.
The NBI official said Ruaya has been operating the sawmill for about six years without any permit.
As far as this case is concerned, medyo solid ang evidence natin dahil siya mismo ang nag-apply at DENR mismo may certification na na-deny siya (We have a solid case since he himself applied for permits but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has certified he was denied), Nuque said.
He said Las Nieves local officials may be held liable for having not taken action against the sawmill.
On the part of the local government, it's up to them to explain siguro dahil ito ay nakuha sa kanilang bakuran (because these were found in their backyard), he said.
Nuque said a case has been filed against Ruaya and the three suspects before the Agusan del Norte Provincial Prosecutor's Office for violating Section 68 of Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.
Source: Philippine News Agency