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, said a tribal leader.
Manobo chieftain Bae Hawodon Cugbahan Merlyn Tagleong Coguit said the loggers could have been emboldened by the death of DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Robredo earlier said before he perished in a plane crash in Masbate that several mayors and other high local government officials in Agusan del Sur were being investigated for their alleged links to illegal logging.
The Manobo tribe is the holder of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Claim-132 covering the 51,000-hectare agroforestry area in Agusan del Sur.
Coguit is the successor to Supreme Datu Haudon Cugbahan Tagliong Coguit, leader of the Manobo Council of Elders.
Coguit said the loggers have returned to 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 report on the news website Interaksyon.
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.
As proof of the renewed activity, elements of the Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF) headed by executive director Renato Miranda backed up by the Philippine Army’s 26th Infantry Battalion and the Talacogon police had again confiscated last week fresh illegally-cut logs in Adgawan River in La Paz town and Ihaoan and Johnson Rivers in Loreto town.