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The Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has arrested four illegal loggers in the municipality of Tabuk in Kalinga province on Sept. 2.

The operations conducted by DENR-ELEPS, together with the Kalinga Provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources, DENR-Cordillera Administrative Region, and DENR’s Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF), also led to the confiscation of illegally cut acacia logs and a chainsaw.

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the operations only show the DENR’s resilience and perseverance despite the threat of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus disease.

"Our dedicated men and women in our enforcement arm just proved once again that we are committed to constantly protect our environment and natural resources even in the face of a deadly pandemic," Cimatu said.

Those charged for violating Section 77 of Presidential Decree (PD) 705, otherwise known as the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, as amended, and Section 7(4) of Republic Act (RA) 9175 or the Chainsaw Act of 2002 were Vincent Dalanao, Archie Cadalina, Victor Manya-aw, and Fioni Tamaw.

Section 77 of PD 705, Unlawful possession of implements and devices used by forest officers, states that offenders will be imprisoned for up to four years and pay a maximum fine of P10,000.

Meanwhile, Section 7(4) of RA 9175 states that "any person who is found to be in possession of a chainsaw and uses the same to cut trees and timber in forest land without authorization shall be penalized up to a maximum of eight years and a maximum fine of P50,000."

Last August, the DENR and the Department of Trade and Industry discussed the regulations involving the buying and selling of chainsaws through online platforms.

For his part, DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito Antonio De Leon said that the DENR "aims to empower the enforcement officers to protect them amid these dangerous operations."

"We believe in the capabilities and dauntlessness of our men and women in the face of these environmental culprits. To further support their dedication and enhance their skills, we in the Department will continue training and retooling their abilities for both personal and institutional development," De Leon said.

The DENR launched on Friday, Sept. 17, a special course on enforcement to enhance the skills of the enforcement personnel in analyzing pieces of evidence, apprehending suspects, and in following the rules of criminal procedures in environmental cases. ###