Around 300 chainsaws seized by the Palawan NGO Network Inc. (PNNI) in various voluntary law enforcement operations were turned over to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) on Tuesday.
Jovic Fabello, spokesperson of PCSD, said that the initial estimate may exceed 300 as the retrieval operations were slowed down due to inclement weather.
“It will be put in our chainsaw stockroom in PSDTI, Barangay Irawan. Status of each chainsaw will be documented and information about the process will be matched to PNNI’s own inventory of chainsaws and its cases involved,” Fabello said.
The PNNI had in its custody hundreds of chainsaw, which were confiscated from alleged illegal loggers by its “paraenforcers” employing citizen’s arrest as its legal basis.
PCSD, the implementing agency of Republic Act (RA) 7611 or the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) Law, on several occasions had called the attention of the PNNI in surrendering said chainsaws, dating as far back as 2013.
Lawyer Teodoro Jose Matta, executive director of PCSD, on the most recent demand issued on May 8 based on the PCSD Resolution No. 20-712, invoked Section 1 of Rule 12 of Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases or A.M. No. 90-6-8 issued by the Supreme Court, citing that the custody and disposition of seized items shall be in accordance with the applicable laws or rules promulgated by the concerned government agency.
The Council also pointed out that Section 9 of RA 9175 or the Chainsaw Act of 2002 expressly vested PCSD the regulation of “ownership, possession, sale, transfer, and/or use of chainsaw units” in Palawan.
PNNI, in its several previously issued statements posted on Facebook, had “consistently questioned” the powers of the government environmental agency on apprehending illegal loggers in the Palawan province.
The PNNI has yet to issue a statement, but has agreed to surrender the confiscated chainsaws in its custody based on its correspondence with the PCSD dated July 22.