Handicraft maker convicted for cutting of apitong tree species at the Bicol National Park

        Guilty beyond reasonable doubt and sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of four months and one day as minimum to four years and two days as maximum is the verdict for Avelino Zapanta Jr. of Bgy. Tuaca, Basud, Camarines Norte. The total volume of lumber is 2.8842 cubic meters/ 1,222.91 board feet with estimated value of PhP 543,125.28 as damage to the government.

       Zapanta denied the accusation claiming that he was a handicraft maker looking for grasses and vines at the Bicol National Park. According to him, two men who were unknown to him were the ones cutting the tree but fled upon seeing authorities including DENR foresters and policemen. However, the court found the testimony of the DENR “credible, consistent as he was caught in flagrante by the arresting officers.” The elements of the felony that Zapanta committed were identified as: (a) possession of timber and other forest products by the accused; and (2) cutting, gathering, collecting or removing of forest products within a forest land without authority.

       The Bicol Natural Park where the crime was committed is a Protected Area. It covers 5,201 hectares. It is characterized as a lowland dipterocarp forest, hence a source of pride for the Region. Under the law it should not be occupied, nor should anything be extracted without permission from authorities including the Protected Area Management Board, its multi-sectoral policy-making body.

        DENR Regional Executive Director Gilbert Gonzales, in a letter to DENR Cam Norte Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, recognized the team’s sterling effort to enforce the law aimed at sustaining BNP resources.

Press Release: March 4, 2014