The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Talibonhas filed a case against two persons allegedly behind the Ubay tree massacre that shocked the Boholano public.
Lawyer Maxim Cadorna said they have filed on Tuesday the complaint before the City Prosecutor and the case is up for resolution. Results are expected in a couple of weeks.
Once resolved, the case could be either dismissed,or information will be filed before the court.
CENRO -Talibon’s enforcement officer Raquel Laguitao filed a complaint against brothers Gerver “Javar” Buna of Barangay San Pascual, Ubay, and Bernie Buna also of Barangay San Pascual for violation of Section 77 of Presidential Decree No. 705 known as the Forestry Code of the Philippines.
“Trusting that after a preliminary investigation and upon findings that there is reasonable ground to engender a well-founded belief that a crime has been committed and the respondent is probably guilty thereof and should be held for trial, the corresponding information is filed in court,” said Laguitao in her letter-complaint.
An official of the CENRO who spoke on the condition of anonymity said they have a solid case against the plaintiffs.
Cadorna said he is confident a case will be filed against the suspects in court and get justice.
The lawyer said he has an airtight case against the suspects of the alleged Ubay tree massacre.
Alan Along and Efren Bacsan, the two whistleblowers that divulged the tree massacre in Ubay, filed their judicial affidavit as part of the attachments for the filing of the case against the Buna brothers for the violation of Section 77 of the Forestry Code.
Along and Bacsan narrated the circumstances behind the cutting of hardwood trees near a river in Barangay San Pascual.
The story about the Ubay tree massacre saw print in the Bohol Tribune back in September.
The story exposed a wanton destruction of planted trees under the National Greening Program.
After exposing, the story, the lives of the whistleblowers changed forever. The story may have stirred a hornet’s nest with the witnesses being pestered with threats.
Bacsan said he had to relocate to another town (undisclosed for security reasons) for their safety. He said he had to abandon some of his agricultural plants being grownon his farm in Ubay due to threats on his life.
After the story was blown wide open, the Tribune reached out to the provincial government for help in probing the alleged tree massacre in Ubay.
The Bohol Environment Management Office (BEMO) was commissioned to probe the allegations of tree massacre in Ubay.
Samuel Racho of the BEMO said he sent personnel to probe the cutting, but due to inclement weather, the personnelwere able to count a little over 100 trees cut.
Bacsan narrated that the town government was constructing a road from the upper down the lower part of Cabudlan farm, located in Barangay San Pascual, Ubay.
He said the people were given permission to cut trees, which may eventually be damaged due to the road construction anyway, back in April 2017.
However, some may have cut too many as trees were cut not just along the project but also those located near the river.
“I asked our (Department of Environment and Natural Resouces) DENR assistor named Leah about the situation, and she explained to me that DENR also permitted to cut trees near the mango trees so that it will bear fruit but regarding the trees near rivers was not permitted.
She also stated that we could not complain anymore to the DENR office because we didn’t take any pictures of the cut trees (evidence). So, we let it go (the situation),” said Bacsan.
Bacsan said on September 14, last year, he went to his farm in Cabudlan to get something and saw trees growing near the river sawn off in different sizes.
He complained to the DENR that a certain member of the Cabudlan Farmers Association (CFA) was cutting trees. He was tolda certain police officer sent a letter to the DENR office asking for some lumber. The DENR then wrote to the CFA president approving the request for lumber and even stated the number of trees to be provided.
Bascan alleged the trees were cut even without the letter from the CFA approving the request.
The person from the DENR advised Bascan to contact a forest ranger. The forest ranger was identified as a certain Albert Mier.
Bacsan said Mier was unable to come due to a prior commitment. Leah then assured the member about the situation and to inform the forest rangers.
He then went to the police station to ask about the lumber the police allegedly needed. The police said they needed lumber since the ones they got are from dead coconut trees and only a truckload was delivered.
Bacsan wondered why there was only a truckload delivered when the cutting allegedly persisted for a week or more. He then saw the DENR representative taking pictures of the project of the association that started back in 2016.
Bascan asked the representative if pictures of the cut trees were also taken and “she answered yes.” He alleged that was the last time the representative communicated with him.
Shockingly, last a Sunday in September, the CFA president allegedly called a meeting and removed some ten members of the association–including Bacsan. He and some others were removed from the association,and the reasons were unknown.
Bacsan managed to call former Bohol Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Nestor Canda who in turn advised him to write a letter to the DENR regional director about the situation. Bacsan alleged he also called up the police to narrate what happened.
Along said he contacted the Tagbilaran office of the DENR, but was told to call the DENR-Talibon office.
The Talibon office assured Along that the cutting of trees in Cabudlan even near the rivers was allowed. The reply from the office shocked Along knowing that it is a violation of the law to cut trees 20 meters from the river.
Along was also wondering why the sudden turn around since the DENR has been sponsoring projects to be undertaken by the CFA to plant more trees to reforest the area.
To verify, Bacsan asked the group’s secretary about the news that he was removed from the membership rolls. The news was confirmed, he said.
Bascan and Along then started to document the cutting of trees. While doing some documentation, the duo saw a white truck. Bacsan then called the police and asked if the lumber has been delivered. He found out the lumber has been earlier delivered.
The white truck was the one that delivered the lumber and the same that was spotted gathering sawn lumber near the river, Bascan said.
The police told Bacsan to send out his men to investigate, but that was the end of that story.
More or less 137 assorted trees were allegedly cut down including narra, tipolo, gita, mahogany, gemelina, awry and some unidentified tree species.
Bacsan went to the media to facilitate the clearance of the activity considering there might be something wrong with the cutting of trees, which were planted in support of the government’s National Greening Program. (DSA)