Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday said there will be no sacred cows in the battle against illegal logging in Negros Occidental, and all culprits will be held accountable even if they are found to be his relatives or are mayors.
Marañon was reacting to the statement of Board Member Rolando Ponsica that he was informed that Allie Divino, the son-in-law of Perfecto Marañon, who is an executive assistant of the governor, had allegedly spearheaded the illegal cutting of trees in Barangay Marcelo, Calatrava.
Ponsica revealed this Wednesday shortly before the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Negros Occidental concurred in the appointment of Wilfred Ramon Peñalosa as the new Provincial Environment Management Officer.
The board member said Marcelo barangay captain Jeremias Diotay informed him of Divino’s activities when he visited his area during the campaign period early this year.
Marañon said Ponsica should have immediately reported the information to the police and the PEMO, so an investigation could have been conducted.
Divino is a sugar planter and he has not received any information in the past of his being linked to illegal logging, the governor said.
In fact, the Marcelo barangay captain was in his office at the Capitol in Bacolod yesterday and did not say anything about the matter, Marañon added.
The governor said he has directed Peñalosa to investigate the claim of Ponsica, but it will be difficult as it had happened some time ago already.
Meanwhile, he said Task Force Ilahas is continuing its massive campaign against illegal logging in the province.
Jose Ma. Valencia, chief of staff of Marañon and TFI executive officer, said the task force, augmented by the police Special Action Force, is currently waging a campaign against illegal logging in northern Negros and Hinoba-an town.
The name of Divino has not surfaced in their intelligence reports against illegal loggers, he said.
But he assured that the governor’s marching orders to them is to spare no one, and that there will be no sacred cows.
The governor yesterday called a meeting with Cadiz Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya, to address the lack of coordination in the campaign against illegal loggers.
The meeting was called amid complaints that those apprehended by TFI and the SAF for illegal logging are later granted permits by environment officers.
Both Valencia and Gerangaya also said high-tech communication has made it difficult for law enforcers to catch illegal loggers.
That is because before law enforcers reach a suspected illegal logging area, someone in the lowland has already tipped off the culprits, who are then able to escape, they said.
Gerangaya said there are many suspects, including some politicians from the barangay up, it is hard to name such persons unless they have solid evidence.
They have to conduct investigations and also hope that witnesses step forward, he said.*CPG