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DENR still on the hunt of perpetrators who illegally cut down dozens of Narra trees inside Sorsogon Eco park

Residents of Cabarbuhan Village in Bacon district Sorsogon City did not have an inkling, at least initially, that the cutting spree of more than forty (40) Narra (some are century old) inside Sorsogon City's Eco park was illegal. 

It was last January 27, 2020 when a local government vehicle was seen transporting the illegal logs out of the forested eco park. 

Marlyn Dichoso, a village council member was the officer-of-day in the village hall can't do anything except made a blotter entry on what transpired involving a government vehicle transporting an already sliced Narra logs.

"We really thought that the cutting of trees was proper seeing government employees and vehicles around." Dichoso said 

She surmised that even the chain saw used in cutting down the Narra trees were possibly government owned. 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources through its Provincial office here in Sorsogon  rushed to verify the report upon knowing the tree cutting spree through media. But its already more than a week since the Narra trees were felled.

Sorsogon PENRO Officer-in-charge Herleo Pavericio said that indeed there were no cutting permit nor pending application for Special cutting permit the office had issued related to the subject trees. 

He said that they were able to recover some of the sliced barks and branches of Narra trees as foresters made some validation also. 

The OIC PENRO hopes that they can still gather more information about the incident though begged off to name names as the investigation is still in progress

The recent cutting of dozens of Narra in Sorsogon City, which is carried out without authority from the DENR is a statutory crime punishable under Republic Act 3571 and under Section 68, PD 705, as amended by Executive Order 277 Series 1987, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines..

Moreover, the cutting specifically of Narra and other premium hardwood trees requires special permit under DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Adm. Order No. 78, S. of 1987 and DENR Memo Circular No.22, S. of 1990. 

And under DENR Memorandum Order dated February 5, 2013, the cutting of Narra needs to be approved by the DENR Central Office, particularly by the Office of the Undersecretary for field Operations.

The offenders and/or persons liable and subject to arrest with warrant or in instances without warrant, with respect to prohibited acts above are the following: the cutter, gatherer, collector, receiver, and the possessor, or in the case of a corporation, the officer or officers who appear to be responsible to the commission of the offense.

The offenses committed under RA 3571 and PD 705, as amended, are malum prohibitum offenses, that is, crimes committed in violation of statutory or regulatory laws. 

Hence, criminal intent is not an essential element in the offense. 

In other words, those who cut the trees or keep and possess the timbers without authority or legal documents committed a criminal act punishable under the existing laws regardless of the motive or purpose it was pursued. 

(Source: Sorsogon News, TV Patrol Bicol SocMed posts, MindanewsDrWilliam R. Adan, research and extension worker, professor and the first chancellor of the Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental.)#

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