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MANILA, Philippines - Illegal loggers, allegedly backed by unscrupulous politicians and influential businessmen, have renewed their operations inside the 51,000-hectare Manobo Agroforestation Complex in Agusan del Sur and other parts of the Caraga region.
This is according to Manobo chieftain Bae Hawodon Cugbahan Merlyn Tagleong Coguit, successor to Supreme Datu Haudon Cugbahan Tagliong Coguit, leader of the Manobo Council of Elders.
The Manobo tribe is the holder of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim-132, which gives it right to harvest, transport, process and sell resources from the 51,000-hectare agroforestry area in Agusan del Sur.
Coguit said the loggers could "take advantage" of the death of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, who earlier said that several mayors in Agusan del Sur, including Gov. Adolph Edward Plaza, were being investigated for their alleged links to illegal logging in the province.
Coguit said the loggers have returned the mountains of Barangays Pangyan, Tudela, Sta. Maria, San Ignacio, San Isidro, Cebulin, all of Trento town; and in the forests of Bunawan and Veruela towns.
"A large portion of the illegally-cut logs were from the mountains of Ezperanza and Talacogon towns," Coguit said in a phone interview.
Coguit added that most of the buyers of the illegal forest products, which were sourced from Agusan del Sur forests, were based in Davao City.
Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF) executive director Renato Miranda on Tuesday said his men and soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion and authorities from the Talacogon police had again confiscated on Monday fresh illegally-cut logs in the province's Adgawan River in La Paz town and Ihaoan and Johnson Rivers in Loreto town.
In the joint AILTF and military report, a total of 62 cubic meters of assorted logs composed of mixesd read and white dipterocarp (lauan), bagtikan, tangile, mayapis, and almon with estimated value of P 308,000 were intercepted Monday in the river of Agusan del Sur allegedly on its way to the processing plants of unidentified owners.
The seized logs were turned over to Talacogon Community Environment and Natural Resources Office.