BUTUAN CITY — Local news reporters and com-mentators of this city have conducted an on-site tour in two towns of Agusan del Sur sponsored by the Department of Environ-ment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Public Affairs Office (RPAO) under Regional Director Nonito M. Tamayo on July 8, 2015 to make them aware of the situation of the extraction and dispo-sition of Typhoon Pablo – damaged trees and timber following the expiration of the six-month privilege granted to certain groups of lumads on June 30, 2015.
The reporters, most of them members of the Commentators Club of Caraga Region headed by radio veteran commentator Rodolfo Esconia and news correspondents of different print media station have seen the situation.
This however, debunked claims by some sectors that some DENR officials are engaged in irregularities particularly in the transport of the logs and lumber from the site to the Wood Processing Plants.
“We have personally seen an actual situation of the disposition of these ty-phoon-damaged trees and lumber but there was no trace of irregularities in it,” Esconia said.
“The operation in Espeanza by the lumads and the local government led by Mayor Deo Manpatilan in as far as the retrieval of those logs is concerned appeared to be smooth with no irregularities noted so far,” he said.
Former Mayor Leonida Manpatilan told reporters the lumads were able to bring the forest products to an specified wood proces-sing plant and have earned about P3 million which was deposited on a trust fund in a bank.
“We thank the DENR officials particularly Secretay Ramon JP Paje for the privilege on the request of the lumads to dispose those typhoon-damaged logs scattered in at least 10 barangays,” Manpatilan said during an interview.
But the request of the Manobo tribal community in La Paz, Agusan del Sur however, had been affected by series of issues and problems that failed to bring down about 4,000 cubic meters of logs from the site to a depository area over the six month period given them by the DENR. “We have been bothered by several problems including lack of funds to finance the operation aggravated by low water level of the river,” Ruel Otaza, the authorized fixer of documents granted to him via a “special power of attorney” arrangement told the visiting newsmen.
“We failed to bring those forest products out of the area when the deadline of special permit expired,” Otaza said. He said that he only managed to bring down about 1,000 cubic meters to the depository area but the amount to be derived from it would be just enough to cover the expenses.
The local media have found out that the leaders of the Manobo community in that town are still looking forward to receive some amounts from the proceeds of the logs sold by Otaza to the wood mill plant. (DENR-Caraga/PIA-Caraga)