Ubay tree massacre stirs hornet’s nest

By Dave S. Albarado

It has appeared that the saga on the tree massacre in Ubay has stirred the hornet’s nest following the tell-all exposé of the whistleblowers led to threats on their lives.

After spilling the beans on the tree massacre in purok 5, barangay San Pascual, Ubay, the whistleblowers, who posited the question on the legality of the logging activities near the river, started to take some heat.

The issue of trees being cut in the watershed area has been exposed for the first time in the open.

Much interest has been placed by the public in the issue due to the fact that allegedly there were government officials who may have a hand in the purported illegal logging activities.

With the issue out in the open, and the public made more aware of the situation, the people who may be behind the alleged illegal activity may have started to turn their attention to the whistleblower in an attempt to draw attention to the situation.

The whistleblowers now are getting death threats from sectors presumably affected by the expose that saw print in the Bohol Tribune last week.

Trees that were planted as a result of the National Greening Program has been affected by the cutting, and the cutting activity has been questioned by the whistleblowers.

The expose might have been a scathing balm to those who may have a hand in the logging activities to go on extra lengths to issue death threats to the whistleblowers.

As a background, two members of a local farmers’ group in Ubay started to question the logging activities. The two have reached out to the local offices of the DENR. The issue made a critical turn when the two members were removed from the membership roll and the action may have been linked to the questioning of the logging activities.

REACHING OUT

In this regard, the Bohol Tribune tried to get some comments on the situation from the Bohol Environmental Management Office (BEMO).

It can be recalled, the BEMO has been commissioned to make an investigation on the alleged massacre of trees in Ubay.

The Tribune reached out to Samuel Racho of the BEMO but he was on official business on Friday, coincidentally in Ubay.

A text message sent to his phone was not replied as of Saturday evening.

To get his side, Tribune called the Ubay mayor’s office for any comment on the situation, but it was only ringing.

Tribune tried to send a text message to the last known phone number of Mayor Constantino Reyes, but the message went unanswered as well.

The Tribune remains open for any comments from the relevant agencies of the government that could shed light in the incident and give proper context.

AWARENESS

During Friday’s Kita ug ang Gobernador, acting provincial administrator Mitchel John Boiser said he was awaiting the report of the BEMO on the matter.

The BEMO has been alerted about the situation, first exposed in an exclusive story in the Tribune last Sunday.

Gov. Edgar Chatto said he is already aware of the situation.

The whistleblowers led by Efren Bacsan already contacted relevant government agencies and officials to question the cutting of trees near the alleged watershed areas.

He sent copies of their letter narrating the instances that led to the cutting of trees to relevant government agencies following the publication of the story in the Tribune last Sunday.

Bacsan was the vice-president of the Cabudlan Farmers Association, but he was allegedly stripped of his membership after he blew the whistle on the alleged illegal cutting of trees in San Pascual, Ubay.

The governor has assured that the provincial government will go to the bottom of the issue and unmask the perpetrators of the alleged crime against environment.

Chatto said the advocacy in protecting the environment has been a priority.

The governor said he is aware of the situation, but awaits the official report of the Environment and Natural Resources Department and the BEMO.

The reports will be the basis of the governor on his actions regarding the situation in San Pascual.

With the issue already gaining ground, it is a matter of time awareness on the issue will spread and wide.

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