SORSOGON CITY — The strict adherence to protocol of PENRO-DENR Sorsogon representative at the hearing conducted during the session by the city council Tuesday, March 3, 2020 for public disclosure of their investigation and technical conference reports as to who are the persons liable for the illegal logging at the eco-park in Cabarbuhan and at San Vicente Bacon District that sometimes government is not on the side of the public.
Even with the pinpoint questions, it insists that there are rules as an internal policy for them that the release of investigation and technical reports or any documents related to that need the approval of the regional office prompting East District councilor Joven Laura to say that he fears a whitewash.
The resource person invoking several times the exemption clause to divulge certain information to the public did not name names of the persons involved in it being the lead agency who conducted the investigation. The investigation centered on the violation of PD 705, the Forestry Act that carries a criminal liability for those found guilty. The severity of the penalty depends on the amount the least is one-year imprisonment for every ten thousand peso value.
It was this reason that the names were withheld for the regional legal department will be responsible to determine if there is a probable cause out of the evidence gathered can be hauled to court was the excuse given.
When asked why they cannot file a case with the pieces of evidence on hand, it skimped on the issue again repeating the internal policy of their office much to the irritation of Councilor Nestor Baldon saying that in his years as a police officer, with the evidence on hand, they can file a case outright while your office needs the blessing of higher-ups before a case can be file considering the magnitude of the offense. Questioning of councilor Franco Eric Ravanilla was replied the same. The posturing was all base on internal rules.
Laura also added that simple cases citing his defense for small-time offenders were summarily hauled to court by environment department people without securing the authority to file from regional people thereby again believe that the inability to reveal and furnished the council copy of the investigation further leads to a whitewash. That doubt persisted for the council was not afforded a copy of the internal memorandum citing the prohibition.
The only assurance that the reports will be transmitted to the regional office and can be acted for an undetermined period of time and they to determine if court action is warranted.
When asked why as the lead agency they were not able to monitor the incident the reply was the oft-repeated line that they lack personnel and it added that it is also a responsibility of the landowner to make sure that it be safeguarded from illegal logging. [Felix ‘Boy” Espineda, Jr. / Bicol Today]