DENR 5 steps up protection of Bicol National Park

LEGAZPI CITYThe Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) regional office here has intensified law enforcement efforts to protect the natural resources at Bicol National Park (BNP) from illegal activities and other forms of abuse.

DENR Bicol director Gilbert Gonzales
DENR Bicol director Gilbert Gonzales said that one of the major breaktroughs in this drive was the conviction of one handicraft maker who was charged with illegal logging.

Gonzales said that one Avelino Zapanta Jr. of barangay Tuaca, Basud Camarines Norte was proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four months and one day.

Some 2.884 cubic meters or 1,222.91 board feet of lumber of apitong were found in his possession. The damage to the government was estimated at P543,125.20.

Zapanta earlier denied the accusation, claiming that he was at the Bicol National Park looking for grasses and vines. According to him, two men who were unknown to him were the ones who cut the tree. Zapanta, however, reportedly fled upon seeing DENR foresters and policemen.

The court favored the testimony of the DENR against Zapanta as “credible and consistent as he was caught in flagrante by the arresting officer.”

The grounds for felony committed by the accused were possession of timber and other forest products, and cutting, gathering, collecting or removing of forest products within a forest land without authority.

Gonzales stressed that the Bicol National Park, where the crime was committed, is a protected area covering 5,201 hectares. The area, which is classified as a lowland dipterocarp forest, is also a source of pride for the Bicol region, he added.

“Under the law it should not be occupied, nor should anything be extracted [from it] without permission from authorities, including the Protected Area Management Board, its multi-sectoral policy-making body,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales also recognized the efforts of the Camarines Norte Provincial Environment and Natural Resources office for the said accomplishment. (MAL/SAA/DENR-5/Albay)

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