PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has seized an estimated P3 million worth of illegal lumber stashed in the house of a German national and his Filipina wife in this city.
Emer D. Garraez, the community environment and natural resources officer here, told reporters on Friday that authorities raided the residence of Peter Schultz on BM Road, Barangay San Miguel here on Wednesday and found concealed in warehouses over 31,000 board feet of mostly ipil wood.
According to Garraez, officials are still trying to determine the whereabouts of Schultz, who was reportedly “out of town” when the raid happened, amid information that he is still somewhere in Metro Manila.
Garraez said the raided property is registered in the name of his Filipina wife, Hyaliza Abuan-Schultz, 25.
The Filipina wife would be excluded from the criminal complaints that environment officials would be filing soon against Schultz as she apparently has no participation in his illegal activities, said Garraez.
Garraez said the DENR was informed that Schultz, 44, has been living in this city “for a while now” but authorities have yet to find out for how long.
He said officials would contact the Bureau of Immigration and the German Embassy on the residency status of Schultz.
The raid was the DENR’s second major operation against illegal logging involving foreign nationals in the province in the past three weeks. The other week, the provincial government and DENR officials raided the Chinese-owned Sunlight Ecotourism Island Resort in Culion town, confiscating at least 100,000 board feet of illegal logs that were being used to build the resort’s cottages and other facilities.
Garraez said the DENR had placed Schultz’s residence under surveillance for three weeks following tips they received from several informants that the German national was involved in the trade of hot lumber.
He said the surveillance team assigned to keep watch on Schultz’s house found vehicles suspected of transporting illegal lumber near the German’s residence.
The German national was not present when the raiding team arrived in his residence and served a search warrant issued by Puerto Princesa Regional Trial Court Judge Jocelyn Dilig.
“We were surprised at the volume of illegal logs Schultz has amassed. It took us two days to haul them to our yard,” Garraez said.
Garraez said officials are pursuing an investigation of the sources of the illegal logs found in Schultz’s possession “and we firmly believe, based on informants’ tip, that most of these came from northern Palawan.”
Garraez said the DENR would file a case of illegal logging against the foreign national “as soon as we complete the documentation, hopefully by early next week.”
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