Catanduanes cops under probe for 'hot lumber'

NAGA CITY 2/13/17 (Bicol Standard)—An order to investigate the alleged involvement of police officers in providing protection for persons engaged in hot lumber in the island province of Catanduanes has been issued by the PNP Regional Director Chief Supt. Melvin Buenafe.

In an interview by Bicol Standard, Buenafe promised a full dress investigation on the matter.

Jing Rima, a local broadcaster, called the attention of Buenafe after receiving reports that 150 pieces of narra flitches that were earlier confiscated were not turned over to the DENR and instead kept inside the quarters of the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC).

In her radio program Island Sandigan Reports, Rima said the modus operandi is to permit the transport of hot lumber allegedly in exchange for payment to the PPSC raiding team.

“Those who could not afford the ‘redemption fee’ are sent home freely and the illegal lumber reported as abandoned,” the report said.

Some pieces of confiscated flitches which were hidden under the beds and behind walls of the PPSC quarters were being kept allegedly to be used by the local chief executive for his projects, Pandan MPS Chief Sammy Realuyo told the DENR investigators.

Realuyo would not, however, turn over to the DENR the pieces of confiscated lumber, Rima said.

Furthermore, the report added: “Police officers and men in Catanduanes are accustomed to the practice of hulidap, where confiscared narra lumber is made into sala sets, furniture and other fixtures for their own homes, or sent as gifts by junior officers to ranking officials.”

Bicol Standard was not able to contact those named in this report for their side of the story.