COTABATO CITY — The Provincial Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy Office (PENREO) of Maguindanao held an adjudication proceeding on 13 October 2021 for the apprehended 115 board feet of Gmelina species and 1 unit of chainsaw in Brgy. Nuro, Upi, Maguindanao.

Last 7 August 2021, Upi Municipal Police Station (MPS) caught two chainsaw operators and one Upi citizen violating Presidential Decree 705 (Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines) and Republic Act 9175 (Chainsaw Act of 2002).

Section 68 of PD 705 states that: “Any person who shall cut, gather, collect, or remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable and disposable public lands, or private lands, without any authority under a license agreement, lease, license or permit, shall be guilty of qualified theft…”

According to the police report, the cutting operations and the chainsaw utilized have no corresponding permits issued by an appropriate authority. This resulted in the interception of the concerned forest products and equipment while the perpetrators are currently under the custody of Upi MPS for proper disposition.

“It is crucial that in our activities that involve the environment, we need to ensure that we are allowed to do so and are given permits to perform our business as our illegal acts will surely pose a danger to nature,” MENRE Deputy Minister Akmad Brahim said.

The apprehended forest products are also under temporary safekeeping by the Upi MPS. MENREO-Upi initially handed these over to the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force, but due to the unavailability of conveyance, the team decided to turn it over to Upi MPS in the meantime.

PENRE Officer of Maguindanao Lauban S. Abdul said that ensuring the legality of our businesses that may affect the environment should be a top priority.

“You need to request permits from the MENRE to legalize your activities. Otherwise, our acts will surely be against the existing environmental and forestry laws,” Lauban told the perpetrators.

CENRE Officers Noroden S. Abdullah and Datumama K. Makartur, PENREO Maguindanao officials, Upi MPS representatives including the apprehension officer, and the Upi Municipal ENR Officer were also present during the proceeding.

Pursuant to DENR Administrative Order No. 97-32 or the “1997 Rules for the Administrative Adjudication of Illegal Forest Products and the Machinery, Equipment, Tools and Conveyances Used in Connection Therewith”, the MENRE held the adjudication proceeding to exercise its administrative jurisdiction over the seized forest products.