August 16
, 2004  (STAR) By Benny G. Enriquez - Forecast protection officers of the Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Office based in Basey, Samar together with operatives of the Philippine Armyís Bravo Company, 52nd Infantry Batallion in Brgy. Basiao, Basey, Samar confiscated recently a big wooden boat or launch which was undergoing construction in Sitio Rawis, Brgy. Guirang, Basey, Samar last July 14, 2004.

A surveillance team learned that the wooden launch had been under construction for about two months. Sources revealed that construction was made in Sitio Rawis because of the abundant wood supply, being a previously logged over area and being situated right next to the Marabut Golden River.

The carpenters who were at the construction site during the operations were not able to present evidence on the legality of the source of the lauan lumber used in the construction of the said launch.

The wooden launch was supposed to be used as passenger motor launch to ply the route of Maripipi-Naval, Biliran-Cebu.

The boat measured 10 feet wide and 83 feet long. Total volume of lumber used in the construction was 956.66 board feet of lauan species. Total cost was estimated at P226,756 inclusive of labor cost.

Regional executive director Leonardo R. Sibbaluca of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region 8 personally led the joint DENR-Phil. Army operation in tamdem with 2nd Lt. Marco Antonio Mag-isa of the 52nd IB. The joint team only spotted the carpenter and laborers in the site when they confiscated the said wooden launch. This was towed down the Golden River of Marabut Samar to the seaside along the CENR Office in Basey, Samar where this wooden launch is now docked.

CENR officer Elias Aya-ay said that his office would conduct confiscation proceedings. If the alleged owner fails to present evidence on the legality of the source of lumber used in the construction, the boat will be forfeited in favor of the government and will be subjected to public bidding or any mode of disposition.

Sibbaluca has asked the local barangay and municipal officials in the identified hotspot areas for timber poaching to help the DENR especially in the information, education and communication as well as implementing programs to provide alternative livelihood options for their constituents to lessen their dependence on the forest.

The series of operations made by the DENR, AFP, PNP and other authorities are part of the Departmentís no let-up campaign against forest law violators. This is the third major operation in hotspots of timber poaching within Samar Island since January this year.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved