The group behind the confiscated haul of illegally cut premium lumber in southern town of Rizal has a considerable influence at the community, said Palawan environmental authorities.
“They are well-grounded at the community and operating with best resources,” said PSupt. Benjamin Acorda, Provincial Police Director, in a press conference Friday, November 20, called on by the Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force.
This development came following the transport of about 14,000 board feet of illegally cut premium lumber species such as Ipil and Mangis, which were confiscated on Monday, November 16 at Polange, Brgy. Latud in Rizal town.
The haul of lumber with market value of P1.1 million was transferred in Puerto Princesa for proper disposition on Friday, November 20. Speaking before local media, the panel members however refused to identify the suspects and divulge further details as the investigation is still ongoing.
Based on intelligence reports, the illegally cut lumber recovered at the consolidation area were gathered in just less than a month but its cutting from the forest took longer, said 3rd Marine Brigade (3MBDE) Deputy Commander Col. Fernando Gomez.
By the time the group was consolidating these forest products from different cutting sites, the environmental authorities was also conducting its surveillance, said the marine brigade commander.
Provincial Police Director Benjamin Acorda said they are looking into the possibility that the group behind this illegal activity is also operating in other areas in the province.
This is the reason why they are intensifying coordination with concerned agencies so as to investigate the mode of transport of illegally cut lumbers and the flow of the group’s overall operation, said Acorda.
Provincial Legal Officer Atty. TJ Matta said the provincial government will open a road in the next six months between remote barangays of Latud and Tabud in Rizal town.
“With this new road, the police and military presence will now have access to the area and it is expected that law enforcement in the area will improve,” he said.
Mata, who also heads the Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force, vowed they will continue to be at the forefront of environmental protection in this province dubbed as the country’s last ecological frontier.
The composite team of environmental agencies who conducted the apprehension were the Provincial Law Enforcement Task Force thru the joint elements of Bantay Palawan Task Force, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Enforcement Team, Military Intelligence Group, Naval Intelligence, and Palawan Provincial Police Office.