Cebu News

DENR-7: Cebu destination of illegal forest products

May B. Miasco - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines — Because of Cebu’s rapid economic growth and booming construction industry, the province has become a major destination of illegal forest products according to an official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-7.

DENR-7 Enforcement Division chief Ariel Rica told The FREEMAN yesterday that illegal shipment of forest products from other islands has been a common problem in Cebu because there are lesser forests in the province and there is an increasing demand for lumber or timber with several infrastructure projects here.

“Cebu’s infrastructure industry is booming. The province has been the center of economy and so forest products are in high demand with several projects and constructions here,” he said.

Illegal logging may not be rampant in Cebu because the province has lesser areas of naturally grown trees but it has been considered as the hotspot in terms of transhipment of illegally sourced forest products.

Therefore, authorities have heightened their monitoring.

On Wednesday, DENR-7 served the search warrant issued against Melvin Montellano, alleged owner of CCKMS Enterprises, which is a lumber house, in Barangay Tayud, Consolacion town.

According to DENR-7 accounts, this business is registered in the name of his wife. However, its certificate of registration for lumber dealership has already expired and the permit indicated that its business is operating in Barangay Yati, Liloan town.

Several undocumented forest products were seized and the haul is considered as the biggest, so far, by DENR-7.

The operation was done in cooperation with the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office, the Provincial Intelligence Branch and the Maritime Group.

Authorities have yet to determine the source of the forest products but they suspect these were from Mindanao or Leyte.

Rica said the owner may face administrative liability and criminal charges for illegal possession of undocumented forest products, a violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the amended Forestry Code of the Philippines.

Cebu CENRO may also conduct an administrative adjudication proceeding to confiscate all the products that will be disposed of either through bidding or deed of donation.

As of yesterday, inventory was still being done and they have yet to determine the total worth of the seized lumber.

Tayud councilman Ramon Solamo, in a separate interview, said the seized lumber are from Mindanao but marketed locally.

Solamo said this year, CCKMS Enterprises, was not able to get a permit from DENR-7 but it still continued to do business.

“We are always here to help and support the DENR, City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG). That’s our commitment,” said Solamo. —Adonis Matthew Ardiente, CNU COMM Intern (FREEMAN)

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