The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and police operatives seized a van filled with illegally cut narra lumber in Tayabas City, Quezon province, on Friday.
Ramil Gutierrez, head of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) based in Pagbilao town, said law enforcers intercepted the van in Barangay Lakawan loaded with 22 pieces of undocumented narra flitches.
Gutierrez said the haul has a volume of 772.5 board feet (1.82 cubic meters) worth an estimated P849,750.
He said, however, that the estimated cost of the damage of the illegal cutting of the trees to the environment could be 10 times the market price of the forest products.
He said the illegally cut narra came from Mauban, a coastal town facing the Pacific Ocean, which has long been known as a transshipment point for illegal forest products from Sierra Madre bound for Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog provinces.
The Tayabas police identified the van driver as Rogelio Rigor de Vera, a resident of Mauban.
Gutierrez said the suspect is the son of Victor de Vera, an alleged smuggler of illegal forest products who was also arrested by Cenro personnel last month in Tayabas while hauling 22 pieces of narra and 22 pieces of kamagong flitches, all of which also came from Mauban.
Guetierrez said authorities are still investigating if the seized narra lumber originated from the northern Quezon side of the Sierra Madre or Northern Luzon.
The Sierra Madre mountain range is home to the largest remaining tract of old-growth tropical rainforest in the Philippines.
The resurgence of illegal logging in Sierra Madre is fueled by the coming elections, according to Fr. Pete Montallana, head of the Save Sierra Madre Network (SSMN).
He said massive illegal logging in Sierra Madre “has become a vicious cycle during elections.”
Source: Inquirer Image: Wikimedia Commons