Amid the raging virus pandemic, illegal logging activities persist in the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, even within so-called protected areas that are supposed to be spared from all forms of destructive human activities, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) revealed on Thursday.
Protected areas are areas set aside for conservation and home to threatened plant and animal wildlife.
DENR-Calabarzon Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales, in a news statement, said the Rizal Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) has recently seized more than 350 board feet of lumber, 104 sacks of charcoal and 5 units of illegal logging equipment, estimated to be worth around P102,370.
The seized forest products and equipment were found within a protected area and were abandoned by the illegal loggers, apparently to evade arrest.
The seized items are currently in the custody of PENRO Rizal for safekeeping. There will be an Administrative Confiscation Proceeding headed by PENRO Rizal for appropriate storage and disposal of the seized items.
Gonzales has earlier called on DENR field personnel in the Calabarzon region to strictly monitor the protected areas in their jurisdiction especially during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) period.
The regional office, through its Enforcement Division, has also regularly monitored field operations and responded to all complaints posted through social media.
According to Forester Oliver Viado, chief of Enforcement Division, DENR field personnel are on red alert during the ECQ.
“They have set up skeletal force and immediate mobilization of the respective quick response teams,” he said.
Anyone who will be caught cutting and transporting forest products without the necessary permits will be charged for violation of Section 77 of R.A. 7161, formerly Section 68, PD 705 (Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines), as amended. The use of unregistered chainsaws will also be charged for violation of R.A. 9175, known as the Chain Saw Act of 2002.