• Ex-Rizal mayor faces forestry code case

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    THE former mayor of Rodriguez, Rizal had been sued for possession of timber without a permit and later manufacturing them into pieces of furniture in a makeshift factory inside the municipal motor pool office.

    The Office of the Ombudsman filed the case against former Rodriguez Mayor Pedro Cuerpo over violations of Section 77 of the Revised Forestry Code requiring individuals to secure the proper permits for timber and other forest products.

    The town’s former Motor Pool chief Aristotle Cruz was also named in the case filed before the Ombudsman.

    Assistant Special Prosecutor Cristina Hernandez claimed that in 2005 Cuerpo and Cruz “possess[ed]and stock[ed]inside the premises of the Municipal Motor Pool in Barangay San Jose, Rodriguez, Rizal, without the legal documents required under existing forest laws and regulations, timber and other forest products…together with tools and equipment…”

    Section 77 of the Revised Forestry Code states that those in possession of timber or other forest products without a license shall be punished similar to Theft under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code.

    Hernandez also alleged that the respondents “deliberately refused” to turn over the timber products, tools and equipment to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) despite notice.

    The items consist of 4,066 pieces of timber products of assorted Dipterocarps valued at P9,009,896. The tools and equipment under question include a Showa Band saw, a cutter plainer, a table circular saw, a power/electric motor, a compressor and a drill press.

    “[I]nstead of turning over the above items to DENR, accused manufactured the timber into chairs, tables and cabinets within the municipal motor pool premises without license, permit or authority from the DENR, to the damage and prejudice of the government,” Hernandez said.

    No bail was recommended for Cuerpo and Cruz.

    REINA TOLENTINO

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