Illegal Lumber Confiscated in Bohol Island

By June Blanco

"Bohol's pristine environment is its primary tourism come-on. It must be protected at all cost, otherwise we will have no tourism industry to speak of."

  Gov. Erico Aumentado expressed grave concern when, reports reaching him early this year indicated that naturally growing trees like molave, locally known as tugas, even in watershed – and therefore protected areas – have been cut by unscrupulous persons and even shipped out of the province.

  The confidential reports revealed that illegal cutting of trees have been prevalent in Bohol especially in secluded forest areas even as transportation of timber or lumber from questionable sources was facilitated with fake, falsified or recycled documents.

  This prompted Aumentado to reconstitute through an executive order (EO) Task Force Kabukiran. The governor sits as chair, the police provincial director as co-chair and executive officer, the mayors of four strategically located towns as vice chairmen; and the provincial and the two community environment and natural resources officers (Penro and Cenros), the chief of the Bohol Environment Management Office (Bemo), the agent-in-charge of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) office in Bohol and a representative of the Provincial Legal Office as members.

  A corollary memorandum from Aumentado designated himself as chair; Sr. Supt. Edgardo Ingking as co-chair; Jagna Mayor Exuperio Lloren who is also the president of the local chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), Maribojoc Mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr., Talibon Mayor Juanario Item and Catigbian Mayor Roberto Salinas, vice chairmen.

  Penro Nestor Canda and Cenros Eusalem Quiwag for Tagbilaran and Alejandro Estopa for Talibon, NBI-Bohol's Johnard Malvar, Engr. Renato Villaber of Bemo and lawyer Abeleon Damalerio of the PLO are the members.

  On the governor's instructions, Ingking himself validated the reports. He said even the watershed areas which are nurtured to ensure sustainable water source for irrigation, cultivation, waterworks, hydroelectric, domestic and commercial uses, and the Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape (RSPL) and other protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) which are vital components of Bohol's eco-tourism industry were not spared from the illegal cutting of trees and exploitation of forest products.

  Leading a team that inspected a watershed area in Barangay Los Angeles in Ubay town adjacent to Bayongan Dam, he discovered that trees have been illegally cut from an estimated 1.2 hectares of land

  For added protective measure, the governor's (EO) also covers unlawful extraction and transportation of minerals and other quarry resources.

  "We do not want to be another Ormoc (Leyte) where alleged rampant illegal cutting of trees resulted into a flash flood that claimed many lives a few years back," he told the task force that he summoned for a refresher on various environmental, forestry, mining and quarrying laws conducted by Regional Technical Director Isabelo Montejo of the Central Visayas office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

  "The El Niño is a natural phenomenon. We do not want to hasten and prolong its occurrence by being remiss in watching over the trees we have planted," Aumentado stressed.

  Given the reports, the task force immediately saw their work at hand – to upgrade and intensify the enforcement of laws, ordinances, rules and regulations.

  Soon enough, the task force netted molave lumber in separate operations on June 3, 6 and 14 in Maribojoc, Bilar and Lila towns respectively. The slices of lumber however were abandoned. The team is now conducting investigations to determine the owners and file cases against them if evidence warrants.

  Meanwhile, an "Alert Team" of the task force swooped down on the operations of a company that has been mining manganese in Sito Tuan, Barangay Montesuerte in Carmen town. The team based at the Bayongan Dam in San Miguel town seized 644 sacks of manganese equivalent to 25.76 tons.

  In his report to Ingking, Canda identified the miner as L'Vien Mining Corp. owned by Lydia Banal of Mati, Davao represented here by Kennedy Botavara – and on the property owned by Jay Sanchez of Cebu City.

  Both the miner and the property owner were not around when a team from the Carmen Police Office led by SPO4 Romeo Jamero arrived, which was on a Sunday. An Alert Mobile Team led by Niño Lofranco from Cenro-Talibon arrived shortly.

  They instructed Montesuerte Barangay Captain Roman Jaum to advise the company that had been using a backhoe to stop its mining operations because it had no permit.

  Jaum admitted that he knew only that the company was already processing its Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) with the DENR regional office in Cebu.

Priority Projects in Tagbilaran City

Tagbilaran Mayor Dan Lim yesterday asserted that all his priority projects are in response to the needs of the city.

 "There is one thing I can promise our people, no matter what our critics say, we have no other motive but the comprehensive progress of our city," the mayor stressed.

 Lim said that while there may be those who disagree with his methods or the technology that he is embracing, no one can say that his projects are not needed by the city.

 The mayor made the remark as he expressed gratitude for the support of the people for his priority projects.

 This was based on the results of the Bohol Poll 2008, a survey conducted by the Holy Name University last April 3-20.

 The survey revealed that 98% approved of the campaign against illegal drugs while 96% agree with the move of the city government to close open air karaoke spots at 10 pm.

 As expected, 91% of the respondents said they were aware and were satisfied with the giving of free uniforms, shoes, bags and other school supplies to all elementary students in Tagbilaran.

 It also showed that 90% supported the plan to set up checkpoints in all entry points to the city even as 89% of those polled agreed with the plan to install monitoring cameras in public places.

 The poll revealed that 56% of those surveyed said the performance of the present administration is better compared to past administrations although 17% said it is worse with 25% saying there is no change.

 Lim said he is humbled by the result of the survey showing 71% of the city residents gave him a satisfaction rating compared to only 6% who said they were not satisfied and 21% who were undecided.

 "It is encouraging because it shows that in spite of what our critics are trying to do, majority of our people support our efforts and initiatives," he added.

 Meanwhile, the poll also showed that Lim's flagship projects enjoy overwhelming support.

 The survey showed that 99% of those polled agree with the concreting of roads, 95% with the construction of the water treatment plant, 89% for the establishment of a recycling plant in Taloto, the same number who support the Agora reconstruction, 84% for the renovation of the Manga public market, 66% favor the reconstruction of the Dao market and 63% back the reconstruction of the Dao terminal.

 Majority of those polled supported any move to borrow money to fund these projects.

 In his Charter Day message, Lim said it is noteworthy to point out that while people in other places are concerned about survival, Tagbilaran is aiming for progress.

Winners of the Sandugo Street Dancing

An island cooperative which is making waves in converting a lost livelihood hunting endangered species into a lucrative tourism enterprise wowed thousands of spectators when it took to the streets Sunday to show its wares marking the 2008 Sandugo street dancing spectacle.

Not to be  outsmarted, Tribu Maribojoc also showed excellent performance to gain the nod of judges to bag the Best in Field Performance.

Jagna's Sinuog Estokada was also the darling of the crowd when it went home with the Best in Street Dancing plum rounding up the three winners in the street dancing exhibition. Although it was made it clear before the revelry started that it was no contest, people in the crowd already trained their sights as to the possible winners. Sixteen Sandugo street dancing groups made up this year's entries in the yearly activity.

The Baclayon contingent represented by the Pamilacan Island Tourism Livelihood Multi-Purpose Cooperative was a stand out in production design. No wonder it went home wrestling the Best Production Design award. No detail was spared in Baclayon's entry—from props, costumes to choreography.

Built around the theme of Pamilacan's thriving whale watching industry, the presentation has to use a prime mover to depict the picture of whales and dolphins cavorting in the seas of the island.

On the surface, it looked like the Baclayon contingent spent millions of pesos to come up with a very impressive and expensive presentation.

But according to Joel Uichico who paired with Bea Zobel de Ayala of the rich and famous Makati clan, the expenses incurred by the contingent was the result of the generous donations of many Baclayanons. The biggest donors are said to be the Ayala Foundation and Globe, a telecom provider owned by the wealthy family.

Uichico said the only tangible expenses shouldered by the pair was the  costumes of the participants numbering more than 100`which ran to something more than P100,000. All the rest are bankrolled by donations from different Baclayanons. The custome design was handled by EJ Relampagos.

Uichico and Zobel de Ayala are in the forefront of Pamilacan's livelihood project.

The two took pity to the island folks after they were dislocated when a ban was imposed on the  hunting manta ray, an age old livelihood of the islanders.

When whale watching became a tourism vogue, the two lost no time in luring the islanders to become spotters of the endangered sea mammals.

Now, more 20 boats designed for manta ray hunting were converted into tourist boats giving way to a new cottage industry becoming the island's source of income. The livelihood also resulted in the preservation of the endangered sea creatures whose population is threatened by extinction. 

Uichico and Ayala offered no interest loans to the islanders to make their operations going. According to Uichico, as much as P4,000 is earned each boat when tourists flock to the island to marvel the beauty and allure of whale watching.

Philippine Population Bill Elicits Protest from Roman Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church here is leading a huge prayer rally on Tuesday expressing its opposition to a bill in Congress seeking to control population growth.

Expected to gather a huge cross-section of the community, Bishop Leonardo Medroso and Vicar General Msgr. Jeffrey Malanog has appealed on members of the clergy, religious, seminarians, school administrators, government officials and mandated church organizations to join the rally.

In his letter calling for "pro-life" advocates, Bishop Medroso says the Reproductive Health Population Act of 2007 which is looming approval at the House of Representatives is "anti-life, anti-family and anti-church".

"The provisions of this bill include legalization of abortion, sex education to the youth and adolescents, that cause more confusion, massive promotion of the artificial methods of birth control," Medroso said.

The Catholic hierarchy considers artificial methods of birth control, such as pills, IUD, condoms and sterilization, as cancer causing and hazardous to women's health.

The prayer rally will converge at the St. Joseph's Cathedral kicking off from five starting points in barangay Mansasa, Bohol Wisdom School, Agricultural Promotions Center in Dao, barangay Dampas Chapel and Graham Junction in Booy.

The jump-off points will each be led by priests that will gather at 2 p.m.  Prayers will be said by participants, simultaneous with prayers emanating from Station dyRD beamed to the city streets during a parade.

"If [the bill] is approved, the Catholic taxpayers will be made to fund reproductive health programs which are oppressive and in violation of the universal right to religious freedom…"

St. Joseph's Cathedral Parish Coordinator on Family and Life Apostolate Arlinda Uy said in a separate statement the specific objective of the prayer rally is to educate and inform the public on the "deceptive and oppressive provisions" of the bill.

The march will start at 3:30 p.m. going to the Cathedral grounds where a short program and Holy Mass will be held.

Bohol Sandugo Street Dancing with Congressman Pichay

By Kit Bagaipo
Bohol Chronicle

This year's Bohol Sandugo streetdancing will feature 16 performing contingents representing schools and local government units.

The street dancing, which will start at 1 p.m. today is a yearly major highlight to cap the Sandugo festivities.  It will traditionally re-enacts the first Blood Compact between Boholano chieftain Datu Sikatuna with Spanish conquistador, Captain General Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.

Streetdancing committee chair Carmen Gatal told the Chronicle that each performing group will render a free interpretative dance depicting the message of the theme "Bol-anong Kultura, Kakugi ug Kina-iyahan, Palambuon."

Three major awards will be given to the top performing contingents in different categories with 6 minor prizes even though this year's streetdancing is a non-competition.
Participating groups are representatives of the Municipalities of Jagna, Balilihan, Carmen, Tubigon, Maribojoc, Bien Unido and Loboc.

Also performing are contingents from the Immaculate of Mary Academy (Catigbian), Tagbilaran City Science High School, Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School, University of Bohol, Catigbian National High School, Immaculata High School (Baclayon), Bohol Northern College (Ubay), Pamilacan Island Tourism Livelihood and Multi-Purpose Cooperative (Pamilacan, Baclayon) and Manga High School.

The performers will assemble at the City Port at 11 a.m. The streetdancing parade will go through Gallares Street, J.S. Torralba Street, CPG Avenue, Tamblot Street before entering the CPG Sports Complex.

Former Surigao Congressman Prospero Pichay will be the guest of honor of the Streetdancing.
Welcome messages will be delivered by Gov. Erico Aumentado and City Mayor Dan Lim during the program with performances from the Loboc Youth Ambassador Band and the Diwanag Dance Troupe of Holy Name University.

The program will be capped with a fireworks display by Dragon Fireworks and a concert with multi-awarded OPM band, Rivermaya at the CPG Sports Complex.

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