The barangay captain of Brgy. Marcelo, Calatrava recently reported the massive illegal cutting of trees at the Northern Negros Natural Park in the first district of Negros Occidental, to Board Member Rolando Ponsica.
Ponsica said Marcelo barangay chairman Jeremias Diotay, said the son-in-law of an executive assistant of Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr., allegedly spearheaded the cutting of trees.
The cutting of trees in the area was disclosed by Ponsica, shortly before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental concurred in the appointment of Wilfred Ramon Peñalosa as the new Provincial Environment Management Officer yesterday.
Ponsica challenged Peñalosa to give priority to the alleged massive cutting of trees at the NNNP, and to send a team to investigate the report.
Peñalosa assured Ponsica and the other SP members that he will look into the claims.
Last week, the Task Force Ilahas confiscated 9,513 board feet of round timber and finished lumber in assorted sizes of an endangered lauan specie, valued at P380,520, cut by poachers in the hinterland barangays of Hiyang-Hiyang and Villacin in Cadiz City.
Ponsica said the massive cutting of trees was reported to them during the election period but he did not reveal it then, to avoid having it tainted with politics.
Board Member Renato Gustilo also called on Peñalosa to act on the illegal charcoal making activities at the park, because of reports that the issuance of permits by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is being abused by charcoal makers.
Peñalosa, who appeared at the SP regular session, told the board members that PEMO has already filed several cases against violators of forestry laws.
The NNNP, comprised of the hinterlands of Cadiz, Victorias, Sagay, Silay, San Carlos and Talisay cities, municipalities of Murcia, EB Magalona,Toboso, Calatrava and Don Salvador Benedicto, has a remaining forest cover of 30, 178.7 hectares, according to the Provincial Environment and Management Office.
The forest cover in Negros Occidental can only be found at the Mt Kanlaon Natural Park in the NNNP, and in some forest patches in the southern part of the province.
Rampant timber poaching activities were also discovered at the so-called “Wilderness Area” in Hinobaan,Negros Occidental, that are reportedly financed by an influential individual in Negros Oriental.*GPB