3 Foreigners Arrested for Illegal Possession of Endangered Tree Species

Three5-17 press release - 3 foreigners arrested for illegal possession of endangered tree species resized foreigners were arrested last week by the joint team of National Bureau of Investigations (NBI), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Bureau of Immigration (BI) officers in a hotel here in Davao City for illegal possession of endangered tree species. 
 
A Cambodian national and two other Malaysian nationals were caught by surprise when operatives from the NBI XI and officials from DENR XI and BI XI came to their hotel room last May 10, 2018. The three were arrested for violation of Section 77 of Presidential Decree 705 as amended by Executive Order No. 277, and Executive Order No. 23 or the Moratorium in the Cutting of Natural Grown Tree Species. 
 
In their possession are 13 kilos of agarwood wedges, locally known as Lapnisan, an endangered tree species, which the three admitted to have bought in Mati City last May 3, 2018 amounting to twenty thousand pesos. Cambodian Mot Tahear and Malaysians Muhamad Isa Bin Mohd Tahir and Ahmad Azim Bin Mat Rahim came to Davao to buy Agarwood. Tahear said that before they went to the Philippines, they met the dealer through Facebook and got acquainted with the latter for only 2 weeks. 
 
Tahear then made businesses with the dealer and came to Davao City with his son Muhamad and nephew Ahmad, who were assured that it will not cause them any problem especially with the Philippine authorities. He said that they have no idea that it is illegal in the Philippines to buy or possess Agarwood since they have not encountered any problems when they purchased it in neighboring Asian countries. 
 
Before the operation, officers from the DENR positively identified the samples obtained by the NBI as agarwood. Extracts from these trees are known to be used in perfumes and concoctions. It can relieve pains and can also prevent infection of open wounds. It is also used in the manufacture of bath soap and is known to treat cancer. 
 
First grade agarwood is one of the most expensive natural raw material in the world. In 2010, the price for superior pure material was as high as 100,000 US dollars per kilogram. However, under the Conservation on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), Agarwood is listed in Appendix II which are species not necessarily threatened with extinction but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
 
The joint operation is part of the on-going anti-illegal logging campaign of DENR through the Task Force Against Environmental Crimes with support coming from the NBI, PNP, AFP, DILG and other law enforcement agencies.

News

Government to Rehabilitate Naboc River

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the provincial government of Davao de Oro signed a Memorandum of Agreement this week for the dredging, quarrying and rehabilitation of Naboc River in Monkayo.

The MOA signing was attended by DENR Secretary Roy A Cimatu, DILG Undersecretary for Operations Epimaco V. Densing III, Davao de Oro Provincial Governor Jayvee Tyron L. Uy and DPWH-XI Regional Director Allan S. Borromeo.

The rehabilitation of Naboc River is one of the priority programs of Secretary Cimatu after President Rodrigo Duterte stated in his SONA last July 2017 the ill condition of the river caused by Mercury, Cyanide and fecal coliform contamination.

"Mt. Diwalwal had been the debris of man's insatiable greed and we will not allow this river to die and we will exhaust all means to bring it back to life as what we have successfully done in Boracay and what we are doing in Manila Bay," Cimatu said during his message.

As initial phase of Naboc River rehabilitation, the Provincial Task Force Naboc River (PTFNR) in Region XI has served Cease and Desist Orders (CDOs) to 1,797 ball mills and carbon-in-pulp (CIP) owners last March 16-18, 2019. Under the slogan “Lihok Alang Sa Naboc”. This 3-day operation aimed to immediately transfer informal settlers and all processing plants from Mt. Diwata to Sitio Mabatas to attain the government’s goal of addressing Diwalwal’s environmental problems.

Assistant Secretary for Field Operations Eastern Mindanao and DENR-XI Regional Executive Director Ruth M. Tawantawan said that it is very fulfilling to have delivered the mandates and challenges of the President and the DENR Secretary.

"The resolution of this long-overdue problem is a clear manifestation of Presidents Duterte's political will for change. And with the issuance of Secretary Cimatu's Special Order for creating the Provincial Task Force Naboc River coupled with his strategies, stipulated an impetus potent enough to reach an effective solution," she said.

On the other hand, Governor Uy vowed to help in cleaning the Naboc River and restore its natural waters.

"As the Governor, I will fully commit my time, my effort and my passion to clean-up this Naboc River and support the advocacy of the DENR and the President as well," Uy said.

 

#LihokAlangSaNaboc #TayoAngKalikasan

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