A barangay chairman
in Caramoran faces possible criminal and administrative charges after
undocumented narra flitches set to be smuggled to the mainland were found on
his property last month.
Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) Luvimindo Chioco told the
Tribune that Supang barangay captain Zaldy Idanan failed to appear during the
initial hearing of the Administrative Confiscation Proceedings (ACP) conducted
by his office last July 23. The series of hearings is aimed at eliciting
Idanan’s explanation of the presence of the hot lumber on his lot and, if his
evidence does not pass muster or he does not appear during any of the three
hearing dates, the confiscation of the lumber in favor of the lumber.
Chioco added that
administrative charges could be filed against the barangay chairman pursuant to
Executive Order No. 23 issued by Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III. He did not
clarify if similar charges would also be filed against members of the barangay
council, none of whom appeared as witnesses despite proper coordination by the
He said that anybody
would find it very unusual if idanan denies any knowledge whatsoever of the
presence of the narra flitches within his property.
Acting on information
supplied by the office of Mayor Agnes Popa, the police sent an intelligence
report to CENRO forest rangers, who soon verified the existence of the lumber
inside Idanan’s beachfront property at sitio Sugod.
The policemen led by
Insp. Dexter Nabol cordoned off the area in the afternoon of July 7 and
requested the participation of the barangay council members during the operation
but none of them came. A team led by forest ranger Sofio Cabrera Jr. and
composed of forest rangers Melandro Nieva, Marivic Sobrepeña, Carlos Garcia and
tree marker Harmel Torzar arrived later that day and inventoried the lumber.
One of the lumber
caches was already ready for hauling about 10 meters from the shoreline while
two others, one buried beneath the sand and the other camouflaged by growing
plants, were at least 30 meters away. Altogether, the 159 pieces of narra
lumber found on the Idanan lot had a volume of 3,151 board feet. Twenty-four of
the flitches were hauled by the CENRO team to Virac while the remaining 135
pieces remain in custody of municipal executive assistant Gener Torzar and
Cabrera said they
noticed a large motorized banca, capable of carrying the contraband, veering
away from the coastline upon noticing the presence of the authorities. He
informed that about 20 men could load such a boat, believed to be from Quezon
province, with the lumber within half an hour.
Chioco, who has
declared war on illegal logging in Catanduanes, said the lumber smugglers have
shifted their transshipment point from Caramoran to barangay Lubas in San
Andres, particularly in sitio Moroc-boroc. Eight forest rangers operating in
two shifts every three days are now monitoring the area to prevent any future
shipments from slipping through.
smugglers used barangays Milaviga and Hitoma as the loading points for their
monthly smuggling runs to Quezon but the presence of CENRO forest guardians
deterred their nefarious activities, CENRO Chioco said, while the eastern coast
of the island has been “sanitized.”
“Our focus now is on
prevention,” he stressed, with his office participating in a recent meeting of
Caramoran barangay captains where the provisions of EO 23 and its penal
provisions were explained.
Forest officers who
were in said meeting noted the silence of some barangay chairmen who are
suspected of having knowledge of or are directly involved in the smuggling of
precious narra outside the island.
The Department of
Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently announced that it will sanction
any local chief executive - whether governor, city and municipal mayor,
including barangay chairmen--if they defy or fail to comply with Pres. Aquino’s
directive for a total log ban in all natural and residual forests of the
Secretary Jesse Robredo said if a particular LCE fails to prevent the entry or
transport of illegal logs or timber within their territorial jurisdiction, he
or she will stand liable for any violation of the total log ban under EO 23.
Robredo also issued a separate directive to PNP chief Gen. Nicanor
Bartolome for the inclusion and implementation of a one-strike policy or
immediate relief of police provincial directors or chiefs of police found to
have been violating the log ban or remiss in preventing the entry or transport
of illegal logs or timber within their assigned jurisdiction.