DENR in Eastern Visayas, heeding the instruction of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to continue being vigilant against those who will take advantage of the health crisis to exploit our forest resources, has resulted to the discovery and seizure of illegally cut lumbers in the province of Northern Samar.

“We expect forest and wildlife crimes because without a doubt, there will be those who will take advantage of the lockdown situation,” said Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. He likewise reminded the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officers (PENROs) and Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers (CENROs) of DENR regional offices to step up its efforts in enforcing environmental laws including the monitoring of the country’s forest and wildlife resources even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Acting on reliable information from informants, the DENR together with the Philippine Army and the Philippine National Police conducted a patrol operation at Brgy. Happy Valley San Isidro, Northern Samar from May 4-8, 2020.

 The said operation resulted to the discovery and seizure of 65,672.56 board feet of illegally cut lumber and boat keels of dipterocarp species and chainsaws with a market value of Php3, 483.628.10.  While the perpetrators were able to evade arrest and vanished into the mountainous terrain, the team identified was able to identify a certain Arnel Lucban Surio as among the alleged violators of forestry laws. Appropriate charges, both criminal and administrative, are being readied in violation of Sec. 77, Presidential Decree 705 or the “Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines”.

The seized forest products are now temporarily deposited at the Provincial Engineering Office (Motor Pool) at Brgy. Cawayan, Catarman, N. Samar and at the old PENR Office at Brgy. UEP, Catarman, N. Samar pending confiscation and disposition proceeding.

This operation comes in the heels of an earlier reported successful operation in the same municipality that yielded 39,500.75 board feet of good lumber with a monetary value of Php1, 975,037.50. To date, this most recent incident of seized illegal forest products can be considered the biggest haul in Northern Samar.

“It is unfortunate that trees were already felled down and violators were able to scamper away. However, we will not waver in our enforcement of environmental laws until such time that the culprits will no longer have the stamina and capital to continue these kind of activities,” says Tirso P. Parian, Jr, Executive Regional Director of DENR in Region 8.

RED Parian also extended his appreciation to the DENR personnel and different security units for responding to the call. He also urged the public to be active collaborators in the fight to protect the region’s rich biodiversity by reporting to DENR field office any sighting or information connected to tree cutting and trading as well as wildlife poaching.