BAUKO, Mountain Province – Five persons were arrested and more than P500,000 worth of assorted illegally-sawn lumber and its by-products were recovered in an over 5-hectare alleged illegal logging site in sitio Bataan, barangay Balintaugan here Saturday.
Chief Superintendent Ullysses Abellera, acting regional director of the Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Cordillera, identified the individuals who were invited for questioning by police operatives as Carlos Kimakim Combisen, 55, married, laborer, resident of Balintaugan, Bauko; Ariel Bateg Bomogao, 36, married, laborer, resident of Amkileng Sagada; Jerry Magnanang Padingil, 23, single, resident of Amkileng, Sagada; Joel Magnanang Padingil, 26, single, resident of Amkileng, Sagada; and William Bistayok Daping, 49, married, resident of Amkileng, Sagada, all of Mountain Province.
On the other hand, the confiscated illegally-sawn lumber had a total volume of 13,582.99 board feet composed of 2,401 pieces in assorted sizes with a total market value of P380,323.67 and 34 sacks of charcoal amounting to over P100,000.
Also recovered in the alleged illegal logging site were two chainsaws and three guide bars which were used by the alleged illegal loggers in the perpetration of the crime.
It can be recalled that officials and employees of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Sabangan conducted surveillance operations through several choppers from the Philippine Air Force that led to the discovery of the illegal logging site in the area.
CENRIO Sabangan immediately sought the support of police personnel from the Mountain Province Police Office that resulted to the successful operations and the recovery of the illegally-sawn lumber in the area.
The arrested individuals and the confiscated pieces of evidence were subsequently brought to the Mountain Province Police headquarters for documentation and safekeeping awaiting the filing of appropriate charges against them.
Mayor Abraham B. Akilit commended the efforts of environment and police officials in the identification of an illegal logging site in his area of jurisdiction through aerial operations, saying that the unrelenting and uncompromising operation of the law enforcers against illegal loggers should serve as a warning to people who continue to damage the forests and watersheds for their own personal advancement.
“We call on our people living in the watershed area to be vigilant on the activities of illegal loggers and immediately report to local and police officials the existence of such illegal logging activities so that they will be arrested and illegal logging will be curbed,” Akilit stressed.
Bauko serves as the headwaters of four major river systems, the Chico, Agno, Magat and Abra rivers, which provide abundant water supply for domestic, agriculture, irrigation, power generation among other uses for people living in lowland communities.
Akilit is a staunch advocate for the preservation and protection of the environment even when he was the regional director of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in the Cordillera where he advocated for the use of 5 percent of the budget of irrigation projects for reforestation and regreening purposes of forests surrounding such projects.
By Dexter A. See