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Decades-old trees cut down from Subic forest

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT: Eight dump trucks loaded with more than 100 logs from decades-old trees allegedly cut from ancestral Aeta land to give way to a solar-wind power project have been impounded by forest rangers of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), on suspicion that they lacked the necessary documents, a source told The Manila Times over the weekend.

The trucks carrying the logs were brought to the SBMA-LED headquarters but were reportedly released after Olongapo City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) chief, Marife Castillo, called the attention of SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia.

Castillo told members of the media that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had issued the necessary permits to cut the trees and transport them.

It was not immediately known where the logs would be taken.

An Aeta member of the SBMA Forest Rangers, Ricky Mana-lansan, said they stopped the trucks and found no permit for the transport of the logs. The trucks were reportedly loaded with Eucalyptus, Cupang and other tree species. A big chunk of Lawaan tree and remnants of other tree species were also found in the clearings adjacent to the access road that reportedly used to be a bike trail to Pastolan Village, the report said.

Based on the DENR assessment, the logs came from trees about 70 to 90 years old, as shown by the rings seen on the trunks.

Republic Act 7227 which created the Subic Bay Freeport Zone classifies Subic forest as a national park, where a permanent total log ban is imposed.

Aetas living in Pastolan Village and nearby areas have expressed deep concern over the rampant cutting down of trees on the project site inside the forest, saying the practice has been seriously affecting their livelihood.