Task force chief linked to illegal loggers

by Atom Araullo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 10 2012 06:51 PM | Updated as of Sep 11 2012 02:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF) defended its boss, retired Major General Renato Miranda, over allegations that he was a protector of illegal loggers and financiers in the Caraga region.

Assistant Executive Director Hermenegildo De Fiesta insists that Miranda was a man of honor who could not be corrupted by illegal logging syndicates in the region.

He cited Miranda's imprisonment of some 4 years after the 2003 Fort Bonifacio Crisis as proof of his boss's unwavering principle.

"Napaka strict niyan. Imposibleng makipagtulungan siya sa mga illegal loggers. It is probably a demolition job by those who are affected by his work in Mindanao," De Fiesta said.

The AILTF claims they have confiscated some 152,000 cubic meters of hot logs in July and August alone, citing this as proof that the task force is doing its job.

They also filed six cases in July against civilians who were involved in the illegal operations.

De Fiesta said that while Miranda may have met with producers of plywood and lumber at a restaurant in Caraga, this is not proof on any irregularity.

"Open meeting naman yun eh. Pwedeng magpunta dun kahit na sino, yung ligal man o yung iligal. Kinausap sila ni General Miranda para maintindihan yung problema sa region," De Fiesta said.

The AILTF said they are conducting their own investigations into the so-called "big fish" that are coddling illegal loggers in Mindanao.

De Fiesta said he cannot release the names of their subjects at this time.