PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Enforcement authorities in Palawan on Sunday arrested and booked a Norwegian national and his Filipina partner following a raid at their resort facility in the tourist town of El Nido, which netted over P7-million worth of banned premium hardwood species.
Charged with forestry law violations were Jan Nielsen, 48, a Norwegian passport holder, and his business and live-in partner, Michelle Gasacao, a native of El Nido.
Both were brought to Puerto Princesa City by the apprehending team on Sunday for inquest proceedings before the provincial prosecutor’s office.
The raid on the couple’s property, the El Nido Adventure Resort, which is still under construction in Barangay Corong-Corong of El Nido, on Saturday yielded over 8,000 board feet of banned hardwood with an estimated black market value of over P7 million, according to Niño Rey Estoya, head of the regulation and enforcement division of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS).
The lumber were mostly Palawan ipil, nato and amugis species, he said.
Estoya said the raid, which they conducted on the basis of an arrest warrant issued a day before the operation by Palawan’s “Green Court” Judge Ambrosio de Luna, netted one of the largest haul of illegal logs in recent months.
“We have not yet established where all those illegal logs came from but it’s likely they were all from the forests of El Nido and the adjacent towns of Taytay and Roxas,” Estoya said.
He said the enforcers first received a tip from a local resident about the reported acquisition by the resort owners of illegal lumber, which prompted them to conduct surveillance operations prior to the raid.
Apart from the PCSDS, the raiding team included members of the El Nido police, personnel from the provincial office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and barangay officials of Corong-Corong.
Estoya said the couple was charged for violation of Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Forestry Code, which imposes a minimum penalty of six months imprisonment and deportation, in the case of a foreign national.
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