DENR wins over Mabini,
Cave destruction case
TAGBILARAN CITY, April 19, (PIA) –In a test case, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) brings the full force of the law to five accused of destroying a cave in Mabini, all for the illegal market of stalactites and stalagmites.
During a meeting with the DENR, Community Environment and Resources Officer (CENRO) of Talibon, Elpidio Palaca revealed that in a complaint he filed for violation of Section 7 of the Republic Act 9072, at least five suspects have pleaded guilty in a bid for reduced sentences.
In a joint affidavit by apprehending officer PO1 Procopio Duca and farmer Oligario Amper responded to a coordination call by Kagawad Victor Bigcas attempting to relay information to the DENR about some five suspicious persons excavating and extracting stalactites and stalagmites from Andres Curan Cave in Barangay Cabidian, Mabini.
Going to the said area for verification, PO1 Duca and Amper personally saw the men extracting and excavating from cave.
Identified as suspects were Calixto Boyles (Bood, Ubay) Carmelita Cobeta (Upper Carmen, Davao City) Maronel Labandria (Bood Ubay), Joel Ramirez and Vincent Tutor, both from Cabidian.
Both immediately brought the suspects to Cabidian Barangay Hall, and at about 3 PM, when the DENR personnel led by park maintenance foreman Julito Sagaral, they confirmed the sack contents as stalactites and stalagmites, which led them to bring the suspects to the Mabini Police Station.
The police authorities also brought the 3 sacks of stalactites and stalagmites as evidence, found two sacks more left in the cave to the total 0.018 cubic meters.
Forest ranger Arsenio Buscano, forest protection officers Moises Maquiling and Ciriaco Tortuga Jr., averred that on that confrontation, the suspects failed to show permits and upon inspection, inventoried 0.018 cubic meters of protected cave minerals.
Republic Act 9072, of the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection mandates the DENR to formulate, develop and implement a national program for the management, protection and conservation of caves and cave resources.
Section 7 prohibits knowingly destroying, disturbing, defacing, marring, altering, removing, or harming the speleogem or speleothem of any cave, gathering, collecting, possessing, consuming, selling, bartering or exchanging or offering for sale without authority any, cave resource; and counselling, procuring, soliciting or employing any other person to violate any provisions of this section.
According to the law, any person found guilty of any of the offenses shall be punished by imprisonment from two (2) years to six (6) years or a fine ranging from Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000) to five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) or both at the discretion of the Court.
For the person furnishing the capital for the venture is punishable by imprisonment from six (6) yrs and one (1) day to eight (8) years or by a fine ranging from Five hundred thousand pesos (P500,000.00) to One million pesos (P1,000,000.00) or both at the Discretion of the Court.
In the same meeting, the accused pleaded guilty to get a lower sentence. (rac/PIA-7/Bohol)