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Ailyn V.

Kindipan
Natural Resources and Environmental Law
Section 2B
CASE DIGEST
GR No. 115634

April 27, 2000

FELIPE CALUB AND RICARDO VALENCIA, DEPARTMENT OF


ENVIRONMENT
AND
NATURAL
RESOURCES
(DENR),
CATBALOGAN, SAMAR, PETITIONERS, VS. COURT OF
APPEALS, MANUELA T. BABALCON, AND CONSTANCIO
ABUGANDA, RESPONDENTS.
FACTS:
On January 28, 1992, the Forest Protection and Law Enforcement
Team of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office
(CENRO) of the DENR apprehended two (2) motor vehicles, described as
follows:
1. Motor Vehicle with Plate No. HAK-733 loaded with one thousand and
twenty six (1,026) board feet of illegally sourced lumber valued at
P8,544.75, being driven by one Pio Gabon and owned by a certain Jose
Vargas.
2. Motor Vehicle with Plate No. FCN-143 loaded with one thousand two
hundred twenty four and ninety seven (1,224.97) board feet of illegallysourced lumber valued at P9,187.27, being driven by one Constancio
Abuganda and owned by a certain Manuela Babalcon. ".
The apprehending team seized and impounded the vehicles and its
load of lumber at the DENR-PENR (Department of Environment and
Natural Resources-Provincial Environment and Natural Resources) Office
in Catbalogan when the drivers of the vehicle, Constancio Abuganda and
Pio Gabon, failed to present proper documents and/or licenses. Felipe
Calub, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, then filed
before the Provincial Prosecutors Office in Samar, a criminal complaint
against Abuganda for violation of Section 68, Presidential Decree 705 as
amended by Executive Order 277, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry
Code.
On January 31, 1992, the impounded vehicles were forcibly taken by
Gabon and Abuganda from the custody of the DENR, prompting DENR
Officer Calub to file a criminal complaint for grave coercion against Gabon
and Abuganda. The complaint was, however, dismissed by the Public
Prosecutor.
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On February 11, 1992, one of the two vehicles was again apprehended
by a composite team of DENR-CENR in Catbalogan and Philippine Army
elements of the 802nd Infantry Brigade at Barangay Buray, Paranas, and
Samar. It was again loaded with forest products with an equivalent volume
of 1,005.47 board feet, valued at P10, 054.70. Calub duly filed a criminal
complaint against Constancio Abuganda, a certain Abegonia, and several
John Does, for violation of Section 68, Presidential Decree 705 as amended
by Executive Order 277, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code.
Abegonia and Abuganda were acquitted on the ground of reasonable doubt
and a criminal action was filed against Noe Pagarao and all other persons
responsible for violation of the Revised Forestry Code. It appeared that it
was Pagarao who chartered the subject vehicle and ordered that cut timber
be loaded on it. Subsequently, respondents Manuela Babalcon, the vehicle
owner, and Constancio Abuganda, the driver, filed a complaint for the
recovery of possession of the two (2) impounded vehicles with an
application for replevin against Calub before the RTC of Catbalogan. The
trial court granted the application for replevin and issued the
corresponding writ in an Order dated April 24, 1992. Petitioners filed a
motion to dismiss which was denied by the trial court. On June 15, 1992,
petitioners filed with the Supreme Court the present Petition for Certiorari,
Prohibition and Mandamus with application for Preliminary Injunction
and/or a Temporary Restraining Order. The Court issued a TRO, enjoining
respondent RTC judge from conducting further proceedings in the civil case
for replevin and enjoining private respondents from taking or attempting to
take the motor vehicles and forest products seized from the custody of the
petitioners. The Court further instructed the petitioners to see to it that the
motor vehicles and other forest products seized are kept in a secured place
and protected from deterioration, said property being in custodia legis and
subject to the direct order of the Supreme Court.
ISSUE:
Whether the DENR-seized motor vehicle, with plate number FCN
143, is in custodia legis.
RULING:
Executive 277 otherwise known as Revised Forestry Code authorizes
the DENR to seize all conveyances used in the commission of an offense in
violation of Section 78,which states that any person who shall cut, gather,
collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forestland, or
timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land,
without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without
the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations,
shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of
the Revised Penal Code. The Court shall further order the confiscation in
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favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered,
collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment,
implements and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest
products are found.
In the present case, the subject vehicles were loaded with forest
products at the time of the seizure with no permit evidencing authority to
possess and transport said load of forest products was duly presented.
Without pertinent documents that could evidence title to or right to
possession of said timber, a warrantless seizure of the involved vehicles and
their load was allowed under Section 78 and 89 of the Revised Forestry
Code. The Court held that since there was a violation of the Revised
Forestry Code and the seizure was in accordance with law, the subject
vehicles were validly deemed in custodia legis. It could not be subject to an
action for replevin. For it is property lawfully taken by virtue of legal
process and considered in the custody of the law, and not otherwise.

G.R. No. 108619

July 31, 1997

EPIFANIO LALICAN, PETITIONER, VS. HON. FILOMENO A.


VERGARA, PRESIDING JUDGE, RTC BRANCH 52, PUERTO
PRINCESA CITY AND PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES,
RESPONDENTS.
FACTS:
On or about February 9, 1991, at Sitio Cadiz, Barangay Bacungan,
City of Puerto Princesa petitioner Lalican et al, without lawful authority or
permit found in their possession, custody and control 1,800 board feet of
assorted species and dimensions of lumber on board two (2) passenger
jeeps, with a value of Fourteen Thousand Pesos (14,000.00). On August 23,
1991, petitioner Lalican filed a motion to quash the information on the
ground that the facts charged did not constitute an offense. Contending that
Sec. 68 of P.D. No. 705 refers to "timber and other forest products" and not
to "lumber," and asserting that "timber" becomes "lumber" only after it is
sawed into beams, planks or boards, petitioner alleged that said decree
"does not apply to 'lumber.'" He added that the law is "vague and standard
less" as it does not specify the authority or the legal documents required by
existing forest laws and regulations.
The prosecution opposed the motion to quash on the ground that it is
not for the courts to determine the wisdom of the law nor to set out the
policy of the legislature which deemed it proper that the word "timber"
should include "lumber" which is a "product or derivative after the timber is
cut." The position of the prosecution was that to hold otherwise would
result in the easy circumvention of the law, for one could stealthily cut
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timber from any forest, have it sawn into lumber and escape criminal
prosecution. The prosecution asserted that the issue raised by petitioner
was more semantical than a question of law.
On September 24, 1991, the lower court, issued an Order quashing the
information. It held that the distinction between "timber" and "lumber" is
not artificial nor a matter of semantics as the law itself distinguishes the
two terms. Sec. 3(q) of P.D. No. 705 classifies "timber" as a forest product
while Sec. 3(aa) thereof considers "lumber" as a finished wood product.
Adding that unlicensed cutting, gathering and/or collecting of "timber" is
penalized under Sec. 68 while sale of "lumber" without compliance with
grading rules established by the government is prohibited by Sec. 79 the
lower court categorically stated that , " lumber, being a manufactured wood
product, poses no more danger to forest lands by being cut, gathered,
collected or removed. It is only bought and sold, thus, Sec. 68 cannot be
made to apply to lumber." The prosecution filed a motion for the
reconsideration of this Order, pointing out that under the Primer on Illegal
Logging of the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR),
timber is not just any piece of wood for it may consist of squared and
manufactured timber or one which has been sawn to pieces to facilitate
transportation or hauling. It stressed that to consider a person who had
made lumber out of timber as not criminally liable is an absurd
interpretation of the law. Moreover, the prosecution underscored the facts
that when apprehended, the accused presented Private Land Timber Permit
No. 030140 dated February 10, 1991 which had expired; that while the
certificate of origin indicated Brgy. Sta. Cruz, the product actually came
from Sitio Cadiz, and that the two jeeps bearing the product were not
equipped with certificates of transport agreement. Added to this was the
fact that, if the product were indeed lumber, then the accused could have
presented a certificate of lumber origin, lumber sale invoices in case of sale,
tally sheets and delivery receipts for transportation from one point to
another.
Petitioner opposed the motion for reconsideration contending that
the DENR primer's definition of "timber" is erroneous because the law itself
distinguishes "timber" from "sawn lumber." The non-inclusion of "lumber"
in Sec. 68 could only mean a clear legislative intent to exclude possession of
"lumber" from the acts penalized under that section.
On June 10, 1992, the lower court issued the herein questioned Order
setting aside the quashal Order of the previous judge. It declared that from
the law itself, it is evident that what is sought to be penalized is not the
possession, without the required legal documents, of timber only but also of
"other forest products." It stated that even if lumber is not timber, still,
lumber is a forest product and possession thereof without legal documents
is equally prohibited by the law which includes "wood" in the definition of
forest products.

Petitioner sought the reconsideration of this Order but the lower


court denied it. Hence, the instant petition arguing that the lower court
gravely abused its discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in setting
aside the quashal order and in denying his motion for reconsideration.
ISSUE:
Whether the lower court gravely abused its discretion amounting to
lack of jurisdiction in setting aside the quashal order and in denying the
motion for reconsideration of the petitioners.
RULING:
The Court held that the lower did not commit a grave abused of its
discretion amounting to lack of jurisdiction in setting aside the quashal
order and in denying the motion for reconsideration of the petitioners. The
Court said that it is not the mere cutting or possession of timber, forest
products or whatever that is prohibited and penalized by the law. What is
prohibited and penalized is the act of cutting or possessing of timber, wood,
or other forest products without lawful authority." In the case at bar, the
lumber seized by the authority from the group of Lalican is classified under
other forest products and therefore subject to confiscation if found being
transported without the legal documents as required under existing forest
laws and regulations.

G.R. No. 131270, March 17, 2000


PERFECTO PALLADA, PETITIONER, VS. PEOPLE OF THE
PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT
FACTS:
In the latter part of 1992, the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) office in Bukidnon received reports that illegally
cut lumber was being delivered to the warehouse of the Valencia Golden
Harvest Corporation in Valencia, Bukidnon. The company is engaged in
rice milling and trading. DENR officers, assisted by elements of the
Philippine National Police, raided the company's warehouse in Poblacion,
Valencia on the strength of a warrant issued by the Regional Trial Court,
Branch 8, Malaybalay, Bukidnon .They found a large stockpile of lumber of
varying sizes cut by a chain saw. As proof that the company had acquired
the lumber by purchase, petitioner produced two receipts issued by R.L.
Rivero Lumberyard of Maramag, Bukidnon, dated March 6 and 17, 1992.
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The DENR officers did not, give credit to the receipts considering that R. L.
Rivero Lumberyard's permit to operate had long been suspended. Moreover
the pieces of lumber found by the authorities were cut by chain saw and
thus could not have come from a licensed sawmill operator.
On October 1, 1992, the raiding team returned for the remaining
lumber. Company president Francisco Tankiko and a certain Isaias
Valdehueza, who represented himself to be a lawyer, asked for a suspension
of the operations to enable them to seek a lifting of the warrant. The motion
was filed with the court which issued the warrant but, on October 5, 1992,
the motion was denied. Accordingly, the remaining lumber was confiscated.
By October 9, 1992, all the lumber in the warehouse had been seized.
On February 23, 1993, petitioner, as general manager, together with
Noel Sy, as assistant operations manager, and Francisco Tankiko, as
president of the Valencia Golden Harvest Corporation, and Isaias
Valdehueza, were charged with violation of 68 of P.D .No. 705, as
amended. As all the accused pleaded not guilty, trial ensued. Then on July
27, 1994, judgment was rendered finding accused Perfecto Pallada and
Francisco Tankiko guilty beyond reasonable doubt of having in their
possession timber products worth of P488, 334.45 without the legal
documents as charged in the information in violation of Section 68 of
Presidential Decree 705, as amended. Petitioner and Francisco Tankiko
appealed to the Court of Appeals, which, on October 31, 1997, affirmed
petitioner's conviction but acquitted Tankiko for lack of proof of his
participation in the purchase or acquisition of the seized lumber.
ISSUE/S:
Whether the Honorable Court of Appeals was correct in upholding
the decision of the trial court that the certificate of timber origin was the
proper document to justify petitioners possession of the squared timber or
flitches
Whether the Honorable Court of Appeals was correct in upholding
the ruling of the trial court that the presence of erasures in the certificate of
timber origin render them valueless as evidence
RULING:
The Court held that trial court acted correctly in not giving credence
to the Certificates of Timber Origin presented by petitioner since the
lumber held by the company should be covered by Certificates of Lumber
Origin.
Even assuming that a Certificate of Timber Origin could serve as a
substitute for Certificate of Lumber Origin, the trial court and the Court of
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Appeals were justified in convicting petitioner, considering the numerous


irregularities and defects found in the documents presented by the latter.
These irregularities and discrepancies make the documents in which they
are found not only questionable but invalid and, thus, justified the trial
court in giving no credence to the same.

G.R. No. 136142, October 24, 2000


PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE, VS.
ALFONSO
DATOR
AND
BENITO
GENOL,
ACCUSED
(ACQUITTED) PASTOR TELEN, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
FACTS:
On October 29, 1993, Police Station Commander Alejandro Rojas of
Maasin, Southern Leyte, and SPO1 Necitas Bacala, were on board a police
patrol vehicle heading towards Barangay San Rafael, Maasin, Southern
Leyte. Upon reaching Barangay Laboon of the same municipality, they
noticed a Isuzu cargo truck loaded with pieces of lumber bound toward the
town proper of Maasin. Suspicious that the cargo was illegally cut pieces of
lumber, Police Station Commander Rojas maneuvered their police vehicle
and gave chase.
Upon catching up with the Isuzu cargo truck in Barangay Soro-soro,
Maasin, Southern Leyte, they ordered the driver, accused Benito Genol, to
pull over. Benito Genol was left alone in the truck after his companions
hurriedly left. When asked if he had the required documents for the proper
transport of the pieces of lumber, Genol answered in the negative. Genol
informed the police authorities that the pieces of lumber were owned by
Pastor Telen, while the Isuzu cargo truck bearing Plate No. HAF 628 was
registered in the name of Southern Leyte Farmers Agro-Industrial
Cooperative, Inc. (SLEFAICO) which is a local cooperative.
On November 5, 1993, Forest Ranger Romeo Galola was fetched from
his office at the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office
(CENRO), Maasin, Southern Leyte by SPO1 Necitas Bacala to inspect the
pieces of lumber that were confiscated on October 29, 1993 in Soro-soro,
Maasin, Southern Leyte from Pastor Telen. Galola and his immediate
supervisor, Sulpicio Saguing, found that the cargo consisted of forty-one
(41) pieces of Dita lumber and ten (10) pieces of Antipolo lumber of
different dimensions with a total volume of 1,560.16 board feet.
Subsequently, SPO1 Bacala issued a seizure receipt covering the fifty-one
(51) pieces of confiscated Dita and Antipolo lumber and one (1) unit of
Isuzu cargo truck with Plate No. HAF 628. The confiscated pieces of lumber
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and the cargo truck were turned over to SPO3 Daniel Lasala, PNP Property
Custodian, Maasin, Southern Leyte who, in turn, officially transferred
custody of the same to the CENRO, Maasin, Southern Leyte.
After analyzing the evidence, the trial court rendered a decision,
convicting the accused PASTOR TELEN beyond reasonable doubt of the
crime of violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705, otherwise
known as the Revised Forestry Code acquitting co-accused Alfonso Dator
and Benito Genol on reasonable doubt for insufficiency of evidence.
ISSUE:
Whether Pastor Telen should be held guilty for violation of Sec 68 of
PD 705 as amended
RULING:
The Court affirmed the decision of the trial court with modifications.
The fact of possession by the appellant of the subject fifty-one (51) pieces of
assorted Antipolo and Dita lumber, as well as his subsequent failure to
produce the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and
regulations constitute criminal liability for violation of Presidential Decree
No. 705, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code.[22] Section 68 of
the code provides:
Section 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber or Other
Forest Products Without License.-Any person who shall cut, gather, collect,
remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber
from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any
authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal
documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be
punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the
Revised Penal Code: Provided, that in the case of partnerships,
associations, or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting,
gathering, collection or possession shall be liable, and if such officers are
aliens, they shall, in addition to the penalty, be deported without further
proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and
Deportation.
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the
government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered, collected,
removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements
and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are
found.

G.R. No. 161798, October 20, 2004


PICOP RESOURCES, INC., PETITIONER, VS. HON. AUGUSTUS
L. CALO, PRESIDING JUDGE, RTC OF AGUSAN DEL NORTE
AND BUTUAN CITY, 10TH JUDICIAL REGION, BRANCH 5,
BUTUAN CITY, HON. VICTOR A. TOMANENG, ACTING
PRESIDING JUDGE, RTC OF AGUSAN DEL NORTE AND
BUTUAN CITY, 10TH JUDICIAL REGION, BRANCH 5, BUTUAN
CITY, EDUARDO CASIA, ROGELIO CASTILLO, ULDARICO
CASINGINAN, ELADIO GALANO, CATALINO VIRTUDAZO,
RICARDO
BALAD-ON,
JOEL
VILLAREAL,
TIBURCIO
IMPUERTO, HILARIO FERNANDEZ, ANDREA VASQUEZ,
SPOUSES REMELITO CODERA AND MARILYN RANOSOCODERA, AND FLORIO JOSAFAT, JR., FOR HIMSELF AND IN
REPRESENTATION BY WAY OF A CLASS SUIT THE MEMBERS
OF THE UNIFIED FARMERS ASSOCIATION OF BISLIG (UFAB),
RESPONDENTS.
FACTS:
PICOP Resources, Inc. (PICOP) owns and operates a multi-billion
peso pulp and paper manufacturing facility in Bislig City, Agusan del Norte.
It holds government-issued Pulpwood and Timber License Agreement
(PTLA) No. 47 and Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) No.
35 which gave petitioner the exclusive right to co-manage and develop with
the State almost 130,000 hectares of forest land within the Agusan-DavaoSurigao Forest Reserve.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),
through its officers, rendered three Memoranda, dated August 22, 1997,
February 16, 2001, and April 6, 2001, by virtue of which petitioner was
designated a DENR depository and custodian for apprehended forest
products and conveyances within its concession. On May 25, 2001, the
Office of the CENRO-Bislig and petitioner entered into a Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA) containing Procedural Guidelines in the Conduct of
Verification of Private Tree Plantation. The MOA provided, among others,
that field validation/verification of applications for Certificates of Private
Tree Ownership (CTPOs) shall be conducted jointly by the DENR, the local
government unit concerned, and petitioner. Pursuant to these Memoranda,
petitioners security personnel were deputized as DENR officers to
apprehend and seize the tools, equipment and conveyance used in the
commission of illegal logging and the forest products removed and
possessed by the offenders.
In the course of the enforcement of the aforesaid Memoranda,
petitioner PICOP, through its security personnel, had on numerous
occasions apprehended within its concession and tree plantation area,
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violators who loaded the illegally cut trees in trucks and other forms of
conveyance, such as carabaos, for transport out of the plantation area.
These illegally cut forest products and conveyances were kept in PICOPs
impounding area.
On June 18, 2001, private respondents Eduardo Casia, Rogelio
Castillo, Uldarico Casinginan, Eladio Galano, Catalino Virtudazo, Ricardo
Balad-on, Joel Villareal, Tiburcio Impuerto, Hilario Fernandez, Andrea
Vasquez, Spouses Remelito Codera and Marilyn Ranoso-Codera, and Florio
Josafat, Jr., for himself and in representation, by way of a class suit, of the
members of the UNITED FARMERS ASSOCIATION OF BISLIG (UFAB),
filed a complaint for damages and injunction with prayer for issuance of
writ of preliminary mandatory injunction before the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), Branch 5, Agusan del Norte and Butuan City against the DENR
Regional Office XIII (CARAGA) and/or its Regional Executive Director
Elias C. Seraspi, Jr., Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices
(PENRO) of Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte and Butuan City and/or
their respective PENR Officers, Community Environment and Natural
Resources Offices (CENRO) of San Francisco, Bunawan, Lianga and Bislig
and/or their respective CENR Officers, and herein petitioner
PICOP/Wilfredo D. Fuentes.
Private respondents-complainants were some of those apprehended
by PICOPS security officers transporting without any permit several
hundred cubic meters of falcata logs allegedly grown in petitioners
plantation. The logs, trucks and other forms of conveyance on which they
were carried were confiscated and kept in petitioners impounding area.
Private respondents alleged in their complaint that the Memoranda dated
August 22, 1997, February 16, 2001 and April 6, 2001 and the MOA dated
May 25, 2001 were illegal for having been issued with grave abuse of
discretion. They sought to have the Memoranda declared null and void for
this reason and also sought to restrain the DENR and all those acting for
and in its behalf, including herein petitioner, from enforcing or
implementing said Memoranda.
On September 21, 2001, the RTC rendered its Decision. With regard
to private respondents allegation that the aforesaid Memoranda were
illegally issued, the trial court disregarded the claim and sustained the
validity of the Memoranda. The Memoranda were issuances of a dulyauthorized government agency in the normal and regular course of its duty
to enforce forestry laws and procedures. Petitioner moved for
reconsideration but this was denied for lack of merit.
On January 21, 2002, DENR-Region XIII RED Benjamin T.
Tumaliuan issued a Memorandum revoking the February 16, 2001
Memorandum issued by former OIC-RED Constancio A. Paye, Jr.
On April 29, 2002, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari with prayer
for issuance of a temporary restraining order and/or writ of injunction
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before the Court of Appeals. The petition was dismissed for lack of merit.
The appellate court held there was no grave abuse of discretion when the
RTC issued the assailed Decision and Resolution. Petitioner had no right or
interest to protect in the confiscated forest products and conveyances.
Petitioners compound was used only as a depository for the confiscated
logs and conveyances by virtue of the Memorandum dated February 16,
2001. Neither did petitioner claim ownership of the confiscated
conveyances. While it claimed that some of the confiscated forest products
may have come from its concession area, petitioner admitted that the
ownership of the confiscated products was still to be determined in the
cases pending either at the CENRO-Bislig or at the Office of the
Government Prosecution-Surigao del Sur. On August 15, 2003, petitioner
filed a Motion for Reconsideration but this was denied in the Resolution of
January 16, 2004.
ISSUE:
Whether the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in granting
private respondents prayer for issuance of injunction in violation of the
doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies.
RULING:
The Court denied the Petition for Review. The Court ruled that
petitioner has no material interest to protect in the confiscated forest
products and conveyances. It has no subsisting proprietary interest, as
borne out by its licensing agreements, which need to be protected by
annulling the writ of injunction issued by the trial court. Petitioner also
cannot claim the right to retain custody of the apprehended logs and
conveyances by virtue of its being designated a depository of the DENR
pursuant to the assailed Memoranda. As such depository, petitioner merely
holds the confiscated products and conveyances in custody for the DENR
while the administrative or criminal proceedings regarding said products
are pending.
The trial court noted that the confiscated vehicles were already
subject of administrative proceedings before the CENRO-Bislig and
criminal complaints before the Office of the Government ProsecutionSurigao del Sur. There were also letters or notices to petitioner from officers
of the CENRO and the Office of the Government Prosecution requesting the
release of some of the conveyances to their owners. There is no reason for
petitioner to refuse to hand over possession of the vehicles and forest
products since, being confiscated items, they will have to be handed over to
the proper government agencies for appropriate disposition proceedings.
Furthermore, the transfer of custody of the confiscated products and
conveyances will not in any way place petitioner at a disadvantage.
Petitioner is merely a depository and the release of the conveyances and
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products to the government agencies concerned has to be done but only in


compliance with lawful court orders.
All the foregoing considered, petitioners contention that the trial
court violated the doctrines of primary jurisdiction and exhaustion of
administrative remedies should also fail. The transfer of custody of the
confiscated products to the CENRO and the Office of the Government
Prosecution was for the purpose of resolving the cases with dispatch.
G.R. No. 79538October 18, 1990
FELIPE YSMAEL, JR. & CO., INC., petitioner, vs. THE DEPUTY
EXECUTIVE
SECRETARY,
THE
SECRETARY
OF
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR
OF THE BUREAU OF FOREST DEVELOPMENT and TWIN
PEAKS DEVELOPMENT AND REALTY CORPORATION,
respondents.
FACTS:
On October 12, 1965, Felipe Ysmael Jr and Co, Inc. entered into a
timber license agreement with the Department of Agriculture and Natural
Resources, represented by then Secretary Jose Feliciano, wherein it was
issued an exclusive license to cut, collect and remove timber except
prohibited species within a specified portion of public forest land with an
area of 54,920 hectares located in the municipality of Maddela, province of
Nueva Vizcaya from October 12, 1965 until June 30, 1990;
On August 18, 1983, the Director of the Bureau of Forest
Development Director Edmundo Cortes, issued a memorandum order
stopping all logging operations in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino provinces,
and cancelling the logging concession of petitioner and nine other forest
concessionaires, pursuant to presidential instructions and a memorandum
order of the Minister of Natural Resources Teodoro Pena .On August 25,
1983, petitioner received a telegram from the Bureau to stop all logging
operations and to pull out logging machineries and equipment and to
coordinate with the respective district foresters for the inventory of logs cut
prior to this order by the Bureau.
After the cancellation of its timber license agreement, it immediately
sent a letter addressed to then President Ferdinand Marcos which sought
reconsideration of the Bureau's directive, citing in support its contributions
to alleging that it was not given the forest conservation and opportunity to
be heard prior to the cancellation of its logging.

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ISSUE:
Whether timber licenses, permits and license agreements vest to the
petitioner a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession
area and the forest products therein
RULING:
According to the Supreme Court:
. . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal
instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of
forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it can
hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the
State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or
irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products
therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by
the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not
deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law.

G.R. No. 152160, January 13, 2004


VIRGILIO BON, PETITIONER,
PHILIPPINES, RESPONDENT.

VS.

PEOPLE

OF

THE

FACTS:
Virgilio Bon and Alejandro Jeniebre, Jr. were charged for violating
Section 68 of PD 705, as amended, together with Rosalio Bon. Sometime in
the month of January or February, 1990, at Barangay Basud, Municipality
of Sorsogon, Province of Sorsogon, the above-named accused helped one
another, cut, gather and manufacture into lumber four (4) narra trees, one
(1) cuyao-yao tree, and one (1) amugis tree, with an approximate volume of
4,315 bd. ft. and valued at approximately P25,000.00, without the
knowledge and consent of the owner Teresita Dangalan-Mendoza and
without having first obtained from proper authorities the necessary permit
or license and/or legal supporting documents. Upon arraignment on May
16, 1991, petitioner Virgilio Bon, Alejandro Jeniebre, Jr. and Rosalio Bon
entered a plea of Not Guilty to the crime charged. Thereafter, the trial of
the case proceeded. Prosecutions evidence was supplied by Julian Lascano,
Oscar Narvaez, Alexander Mendones, Manuel Dangalan, Nestor Labayan[e]
and Teresita Dangalan-Mendoza which shows that Teresita [DangalanMendoza] owns a titled agricultural land under Title No. 6666 located in
Basud, Sorsogon, Sorsogon, administered by Virgilio Bon. Receiving
information that trees inside the land were being stolen, cut and sawed into
13

lumber by her administrator and/or workers, she sent her brother Manuel
Dangalan to investigate the report. On February 7, 1990, Manuel Dangalan
sought the help of Barangay Captain Nestor Labayane, who in turn wrote a
letter to one of the barangay tanods, Julian Lascano, to assist and
investigate Teresita Dangalan-Mendozas complaint of Illegal Cutting of
Trees.
On February 12, 1990, together with Julian Lascano, Manuel
Dangalan, Ricardo Valladolid, Natividad Legaspi and Virgilio Bon repaired
to the land of Teresita Dangalan-Mendoza. During their investigation, the
group discovered six (6) stumps of trees: four (4) Narra trees, one cuyaoyao tree and one amugis tree. On the land, Virgilio Bon admitted ordering
the cutting and sawing of the trees into lumber. Oscar Narvaez testified
that sometime in January, 1990, he sawed the trees into six flitches upon
instruction of Alejandro Jeniebre, Jr.; Alexander Mendones, CENRO
Officer, upon complaint of Teresita Dangalan-Mendoza for Illegal Cutting
of Trees repaired to the land on July 17, 1990, and found four stumps of
trees. Scaling the four stumps, it was his estimate that the lumber
produced was 11.97 cubic meters o[r] 4,315 board feet, with a value of
P25,376.00 x x x. In their defense, all the three accused denied the
accusation.
ISSUE/S:
Whether the accused be charged guilty of violating Sec 68 of the
Forestry Code, as amended, based only on circumstantial evidence as no
direct evidence against the accused were presented
RULING:
Section 68 of the Forestry Code, as amended,provides:
SEC. 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or Collecting Timber, or Other
Forest Products Without License. Any person who shall cut, gather,
collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or
timber from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land,
without any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without
the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations,
shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of
the Revised Penal Code: Provided, That in the case of partnerships,
associations, or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting,
gathering, collection or possession shall be liable, and if such officers are
aliens, they shall, in addition to the penalty, be deported without further
proceedings on the part of the Commission on Immigration and
Deportation.
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the
government of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered, collected,
removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements
14

and tools illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are
found.
Punishable under the above provision are the following acts: (1)
cutting, gathering, collecting or removing timber or other forest products
from the places therein mentioned without any authority; and (b)
possessing timber or other forest products without the legal documents.
Petitioner was charged with the first offense. No direct evidence
against the accused was presented by the prosecution. According to the
Court, this kind of evidence, is not the only matrix from which the trial
court may draw its conclusions and findings of guiltConviction may be
based on circumstantial evidence, as long as the circumstances proven
constitute an unbroken chain that leads to a fair and reasonable conclusion
that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.
To sustain a conviction based on circumstantial evidence, it is
necessary that the following elements concur:
1. There is more than one circumstance.
2. The facts from which the inferences are derived are proven.
3. The combination of all the circumstances is such as to produce a
conviction beyond reasonable doubt
The Court finds circumstances in this case to satisfy the above
requirements. A review of the records also shows that the fact of the alleged
cutting, gathering and manufacture of lumber from the trees was proven by
the prosecution through the following pieces of documentary evidence:
photographs of tree stumps,the investigation report of an officer of the
Community Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO) that no permit
was secured for the cutting of the trees, and the CENROs computation of
the value[40] of the timber generated from the felled trees. This fact,
together with the circumstantial evidence, indubitably points to no other
conclusion than that petitioner was guilty as charged.

AM No. RTJ -03-1786

August 28,2003

ALFREDO Y. CHU, COMPLAINANT, VS. JUDGE CAMILO E.


TAMIN, PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL COURT,
BRANCH
23,
NINTH
JUDICIAL
REGION,
MOLAVE,
ZAMBOANGA DEL SUR, RESPONDENT.

15

FACTS:
Alfredo Y. Chu alleged that on 9 September 1999, Community
Environment and Natural Resources Officer Michael F. dela Cruz of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Region IX, applied for
a search warrant with Judge Camilo Tamin. Dela Cruz claimed that
complainant was in possession of "forest products of dubious origin" in
violation of Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended. On the
same day, respondent judge issued Search Warrant No. 364 ordering the
seizure of several pieces of mangrove lumber from complainant's fishpond
in Bulawan, Payao, Zamboanga del Sur. On the strength of the warrant,
dela Cruz, assisted by law enforcement agents, seized from complainant 576
pieces of pagatpat lumber (mangrove specie) with an estimated value of
P183,790.
Complainant pointed out that this was the fifth time that respondent
judge issued, under questionable procedure, search warrants against him
for violation of PD 705. Complainant recalled that on 10 November 1998,
respondent judge issued four search warrants against him (Search Warrant
Nos. 281 to 284), authorizing the seizure from his compound of pagatpat
lumber worth more than P1.5 million. Complainant alleged that the records
of the four warrants did not also contain any transcript of the required
examination of witnesses. Complainant therefore moved to quash the four
warrants. Respondent judge, however, denied the motion on the ground
that he had in fact conducted such examination but the record of the
"deposition" was "misfiled in another case folder through inadvertence.
In response to the directive of the Office of the Court Administrator
("OCA") of this Court to comment on the complaint, respondent judge, in
his Second Indorsement ("Indorsement") dated 16 December 1999, denied
complainant's allegations. Respondent judge asserted that at around 1:15
p.m. of 9 September 1999, he personally examined a certain Reynaldo
Cuaresma ("Cuaresma"), allegedly a witness of CENRO dela Cruz, before
issuing the warrant in question. He claimed that a transcript of the
examination was included in the records of Search Warrant No. 364.
However, he forwarded the records to the OCA on 30 September 1999 in
connection with his request for the transfer of the case to the RTC, Branch
24, in Ipil, Zamboanga del Sur ("Branch 24"). In lieu of the original copy,
respondent judge attached to his Indorsement an alleged computer
printout of the transcript, claiming that the time and date of its encoding
was verifiable in the computer files in his office.
Due to the conflicting factual allegations of the parties, the Court
directed the Executive Judge of the RTC of Pagadian City, Zamboanga del
Sur to: (1) verify from Branch 23 whether respondent judge examined any
witness before issuing Search Warrant No. 364; and (2) secure from Clerk
of Court Lumapas her explanation on the apparent discrepancy between the
copy of the records of Search Warrant No. 364, as forwarded by respondent
judge to the OCA and as obtained by complainant.
16

In his Report, dated 30 July 2001, RTC Pagadian City Executive


Judge Franklyn A. Villegas ("Executive Judge Villegas") stated that he
verified the records of Search Warrant No. 364 in Branch 23. He found on
page 5 of the records a copy of the transcript of the examination conducted
by respondent judge on one Reynaldo Cuaresma. He attached in his report
the explanations of respondent judge and Clerk of Court Lumapas. Clerk of
Court Lumapas affirmed respondent judge's claims and defenses in her
explanation dated 11 July 2001.
In its Report dated 10 December 2002, the OCA found respondent
judge liable for gross ignorance of the law and recommended the
imposition of a P5,000 fine. The Report reads in part:
Respondent judge stands firm on his claim that he conducted
searching questions on Reynaldo Cuaresma . We find this claim highly
suspect. First, the respondent judge initially failed to produce a copy of the
transcript of the searching questions allegedly made on September 9, 1999
and append the same to the record of the case. The transcript of the
searching questions was, in fact, produced only after the filing of the instant
complaint. Further, it was noted that during the hearing of complainant's
motion to quash Search Warrant Nos. 281, 282, 283 and 28 taken on 21
January 1999 at 9:30 a.m. respondent judge apparently believes that
searching questions need not be in writing.
ISSUE :
Whether Judge Camilo Tamin be guilty of gross ignorance of the law
in his issuance of search warrant on the property of Alfredo Chu
RULING:
The Court uphold the OCA's charging Judge Tamin of gross ignorance
of the law. The Court finds that Judge Tamin, who had earlier professed
ignorance of the rule in question, failed either to examine any witness
before issuing Search Warrant No. 364 or to reduce the examination in
writing. His omission renders him liable for gross ignorance of the law.
When the law is so elementary, such as the provisions of the Constitution
and the Rules of Court on search warrant issuance, not to know it or to act
as if one does not know it, constitutes gross ignorance of the law.
According to the Court, a judge is called upon to exhibit more than
just a cursory acquaintance with the statutes and procedural rules. It is
imperative that he be studious of and conversant with basic legal principles.
He owes it to the dignity of the court he sits in, to the legal profession he
belongs, and to the public who depends on him, to know the law which he is
called upon to apply.

17

G.R. No. 101083

July 30, 1993

JUAN ANTONIO, ANNA ROSARIO and JOSE ALFONSO, all


surnamed OPOSA, minors, and represented by their parents
ANTONIO and RIZALINA OPOSA, ROBERTA NICOLE SADIUA,
minor, represented by her parents CALVIN and ROBERTA
SADIUA, CARLO, AMANDA SALUD and PATRISHA, all
surnamed FLORES, minors and represented by their parents
ENRICO and NIDA FLORES, GIANINA DITA R. FORTUN, minor,
represented by her parents SIGRID and DOLORES FORTUN,
GEORGE II and MA. CONCEPCION, all surnamed MISA, minors
and represented by their parents GEORGE and MYRA MISA,
BENJAMIN ALAN V. PESIGAN, minor, represented by his
parents ANTONIO and ALICE PESIGAN, JOVIE MARIE ALFARO,
minor, represented by her parents JOSE and MARIA VIOLETA
ALFARO, MARIA CONCEPCION T. CASTRO, minor, represented
by her parents FREDENIL and JANE CASTRO, JOHANNA
DESAMPARADO, minor, represented by her parents JOSE and
ANGELA DESAMPRADO, CARLO JOAQUIN T. NARVASA, minor,
represented by his parents GREGORIO II and CRISTINE
CHARITY NARVASA, MA. MARGARITA, JESUS IGNACIO, MA.
ANGELA and MARIE GABRIELLE, all surnamed SAENZ, minors,
represented by their parents ROBERTO and AURORA SAENZ,
KRISTINE, MARY ELLEN, MAY, GOLDA MARTHE and DAVID
IAN, all surnamed KING, minors, represented by their parents
MARIO and HAYDEE KING, DAVID, FRANCISCO and THERESE
VICTORIA, all surnamed ENDRIGA, minors, represented by
their parents BALTAZAR and TERESITA ENDRIGA, JOSE MA.
and REGINA MA., all surnamed ABAYA, minors, represented by
their parents ANTONIO and MARICA ABAYA, MARILIN,
MARIO, JR. and MARIETTE, all surnamed CARDAMA, minors,
represented by their parents MARIO and LINA CARDAMA,
CLARISSA, ANN MARIE, NAGEL, and IMEE LYN, all surnamed
OPOSA, minors and represented by their parents RICARDO and
MARISSA OPOSA, PHILIP JOSEPH, STEPHEN JOHN and
ISAIAH JAMES, all surnamed QUIPIT, minors, represented by
their parents JOSE MAX and VILMI QUIPIT, BUGHAW CIELO,
CRISANTO, ANNA, DANIEL and FRANCISCO, all surnamed
BIBAL, minors, represented by their parents FRANCISCO, JR.
and MILAGROS BIBAL, and THE PHILIPPINE ECOLOGICAL
NETWORK, INC., petitioners,
vs.
THE HONORABLE FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., in his
capacity as the Secretary of the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources, and THE HONORABLE ERIBERTO U.
ROSARIO, Presiding Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66,
respondents.

18

FACTS:
The controversy has its genesis in Civil Case No. 90-77 which was
filed before Branch 66 (Makati, Metro Manila) of the Regional Trial Court
(RTC), National Capital Judicial Region. The principal plaintiffs therein,
now the principal petitioners, are all minors duly represented and joined by
their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is the
Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock and
non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of engaging in concerted
action geared for the protection of our environment and natural resources.
The original defendant was the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., then
Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR). His substitution in this petition by the new Secretary, the
Honorable Angel C. Alcala, was subsequently ordered upon proper motion
by the petitioners. The complaint was instituted as a taxpayers' class suit
and alleges that the plaintiffs "are all citizens of the Republic of the
Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment of
the natural resource treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests."
The same was filed for themselves and others who are equally concerned
about the preservation of said resource but are "so numerous that it is
impracticable to bring them all before the Court." The minors further
asseverate that they "represent their generation as well as generations yet
unborn." Consequently, it is prayed for that judgment be rendered:
. . . ordering defendant, his agents, representatives and other persons acting
in his behalf to
(1)

Cancel all existing timber license agreements in the country;

(2) Cease and desist from receiving, accepting, processing, renewing or


approving new timber license agreements.
ISSUE:
Whether the President could cancel existing license agreement and
order the termination of issuance of new timber license agreements
RULING:
The Court said that every timber license must be read Section 20 of
the Forestry Reform Code (P.D. No. 705) which provides:
. . . Provided, That when the national interest so requires, the President
may amend, modify, replace or rescind any contract, concession, permit,
licenses or any other form of privilege granted herein . . .
All licenses may thus be revoked or rescinded by executive action. It is
not a contract, property or a property right protested by the due process
19

clause of the Constitution. In Tan vs. Director of Forestry, 25 this Court


held:
. . . A timber license is an instrument by which the State regulates the
utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare
is promoted. A timber license is not a contract within the purview of the
due process clause; it is only a license or privilege, which can be validly
withdrawn whenever dictated by public interest or public welfare as in this
case.
A license is merely a permit or privilege to do what otherwise would
be unlawful, and is not a contract between the authority, federal, state, or
municipal, granting it and the person to whom it is granted; neither is it
property or a property right, nor does it create a vested right; nor is it
taxation (37 C.J. 168). Thus, this Court held that the granting of license
does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property rights
(People vs. Ong Tin, 54 O.G. 7576).
The Court reiterated this pronouncement in Felipe Ysmael, Jr. & Co.,
Inc. vs. Deputy Executive Secretary:
. . . Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal
instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of
forest resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. And it can
hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the
State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or
irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products
therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by
the Chief Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not
deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of law clause
Since timber licenses are not contracts, the non-impairment clause, which
reads:
Sec. 10.
No law impairing, the obligation of contracts shall be passed.
cannot be invoked.
G.R. No. L-46772

February 13, 1992

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF FIRST


INSTANCE OF QUEZON (BRANCH VII), GODOFREDO
ARROZAL AND LUIS FLORES, respondents.

20

FACTS:
Godofredo Arrozal and Luis Flores were charged with the crime of
qualified theft of logs, defined and punished under Section 68 of
Presidential Decree No. 705, otherwise known as the Revised Forestry Code
of the Philippines. On or about the 28th, 29th and 30th days of July 1976,
at Barangay Mahabang Lalim, Municipality of General Nakar, Province of
Quezon, Godofredo Arrozal and Luis Flores, together with twenty (20)
other John Does whose identities are still unknown, the first-named
accused being the administrator of the Infanta Logging Corporation,
entered the privately-owned land of one Felicitacion Pujalte. Once inside,
they illegally cut, gather, take, steal and carry away therefrom, without the
consent of the said owner and without any authority under a license
agreement, lease license or permit, sixty (60) logs of different species,
consisting of about 541.48 cubic meters, with total value of fifty thousand
two hundred five pesos and fifty two centavos (P50,205.52).
ISSUE:
Whether the information charged an offense of theft
RULING:
The information substantially alleged all the elements of the crime of
qualified theft of logs as described in Section 68 of P.D. 705. While it was
admitted that the information did not precisely allege that the taking of the
logs in question was "without the consent of the state," nevertheless, said
information expressly stated that the accused "illegally cut, gather, take,
steal and carry away therefrom, without the consent of said owner and
without any authority under a license agreement, lease, lease, license or
permit, sixty (60) logs of different species. . . ." Since only the state can
grant the lease, license, license agreement or permit for utilization of forest
resources, including timber, then the allegation in the information that the
asportation of the logs was "without any authority" under a license
agreement, lease, license or permit, is tantamount to alleging that the
taking of the logs was without the consent of the state.
While it is only the state which can grant a license or authority to cut,
gather, collect or remove forest products it does not follow that all forest
products belong to the state. In the just cited case, private ownership of
forest products grown in private lands is retained under the principle in
civil law that ownership of the land includes everything found on its
surface.

21

G.R. No. 120365,

December 17, 1996

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, PLAINTIFF-APPELLE, VS.


WILSON B. QUE, ACCUSED-APPELLANT.
FACTS:
Two weeks before March 8, 1994, SPO1 Dexter Corpuz, a member of
the Provincial Task Force on Illegal Logging, received an information that a
ten-wheeler truck bearing plate number PAD-548 loaded with illegally cut
lumber will pass through Ilocos Norte. Acting on said information,
members of the Provincial Task Force went on patrol several times within
the vicinity of General Segundo Avenue in Laoag City.
On March 8, 1994, SPO1 Corpuz, together with SPO1 Zaldy Asuncion
and SPO1 Elmer Patoc went on patrol around the area. After 30 minute sof
waiting they saw a ten-wheeler truck with plate number PAD-548 pass by.
They followed the truck and apprehended it at the Marcos Bridge.
There were three persons on board the truck: driver Wilfredo Cacao,
accused-appellant Wilson Que, and an unnamed person. The driver
identified accused-appellant as the owner of the truck and the cargo.
SPO1 Corpuz checked the cargo and found that it contained coconut
slabs. When interviewed, accused-appellant told SPO1 Corpuz that there
were sawn lumber inserted in between the coconut slabs.
SPO1 Corpuz asked accused-appellant for the Cargos supporting
documents, specifically: (1) certificate of lumber origin, (2) certificate of
transport agreement, (3) auxiliary invoice, (4) receipt from the DENR, and
(5) certification from the forest ranger regarding the origin of the coconut
slabs. Accused-appellant failed to present any of these documents. All he
could show was a certification from the Community Environment and
Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Sanchez Mira, Cagayan that he legally
acquired the coconut slabs. The certification was issued to facilitate
transport of the slabs from Sanchez Mira, Cagayan to San Vicente,
Urdaneta, Pangasinan.
SPO1 Corpuz brought accused-appellant to the office of the Provincial
Task Force at the provincial capitol. Again, accused-appellant admitted to
the members of the Provincial Task Force that there were sawn lumber
under the coconut slabs.
At 10:00 oclock in the morning, the members of the Provincial Task
Force, together with three CENRO personnel examined the cargo. The
examination confirmed that the cargo consisted of coconut slabs and sawn
tanguile lumber. The coconut slabs were piled at the sides of the truck,
22

concealing the tanguile lumber.When the CENRO personnel inventoried


and scaled the seized forest products, they counted two hundred fifty eight
(258) pieces of tanguile lumber with a total volume of 3,729.3 board feet
(8.79 cubic meters) and total assessed value of P93,232.50.
On June 23, 1994, accused-appellant was charged before the Regional
Trial Court of Laoag with violation of Section 68 of P.D. 705 as amended by
E.O. 277. The trial court found accused-appellant guilty and sentenced him
to reclusion perpetua.
ISSUE:
Whether a person by mere possession of timber and other forest
products required under existing forest laws and regulations be convicted
for violation of Sec 68 of PD 705
RULING:
Accused-appellant's possession of the subject lumber without any
documentation clearly constitutes an offense under Section 68 of P.D. 705.
The Court reject appellant's argument that the law only penalizes
possession of illegal forest products and that the possessor cannot be held
liable if he proves that the cutting, gathering, collecting or removal of such
forest products is legal. There are two (2) distinct and separate offenses
punished under Section 68 of P.D. 705, to wit:
(1) Cutting, gathering, collecting and removing timber or other forest
products from any forest land, or timber from alienable or disposable
public land, or from private land without any authority; and
(2) Possession of timber or other forest products without the legal
documents required under existing forest laws and regulations.
In the first offense, one can raise as a defense the legality of the acts of
cutting, gathering, collecting or removing timber or other forest products
by presenting the authorization issued by the DENR. In the second offense,
however, it is immaterial whether the cutting, gathering, collecting and
removal of the forest products is legal or not. Mere possession of forest
products without the proper documents consummates the crime. Whether
or not the lumber comes from a legal source is immaterial because E.O 277
considers the mere possession of timber or other forest products without
the proper legal documents as malum prohibitum.

23

G.R. No. 152989

September 4, 2002

Manuel Jorge Roldan, Jr. vs. Hon. Fortunito L. Madrona Pairing


Judge, RTC Branch 12, Ormoc City and Hon. Alberto L. Conopio,
City Prosecutor, Ormoc City, ATTY. FIEL MARMITA, OIC, DENRCENRO, Albuera, Leyte
THIRD DIVISION
FACTS:
Manuel Jorge Roldan is the owner of a parcel of land consisting of
about 60,000 square meters covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. TP331 which he bought from a certain Ildefonso O. Maglasang. On August 9,
2001, Roldan applied for a Private Land Timber Permit (PLTP) from the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources for him to cut some
trees for a proposed road and poultry farm in his property. He also paid all
the fees required by the various government agencies. While waiting for the
permit to be issued, petitioner was allegedly informed by some employees
from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that
he could proceed with the cutting of trees even though his application was
still awaiting approval. Consequently, petitioner proceeded with the cutting
of trees and bulldozing of the roadway.He used the cut logs as materials to
build his chicken cages. About three weeks later, representatives of the
Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources and personnel from
the Intelligence Service, Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) of
Tacloban City raided petitioner's place, allegedly without a search warrant.
An inventory of the cut trees was conducted. The logs were not confiscated
but were entrusted to a barangay kagawad since there was allegedly no
search warrant at that time. About two days later, the CENRO
representatives came back with members of the media and ISAFP charging
illegal logging but they failed to get the logs, again for alleged lack of search
warrant. Several days thereafter, the CENRO group and ISAFP returned,
this time armed with a search warrant and proceeded to confiscate 872
pieces of sawn lumber/flitches (8,506 board feet) and three felled timber
logs with a total market value of P235,454.68 at P27.00 per board foot.
Consequently, on September 21, 2001, a complaint for violation of Section
68 of PD 705 as amended was filed against herein petitioner by CENRO
before the City Prosecutor of Ormoc City. Thereafter, the City Prosecutor
issued a resolution dated November 16, 2001 finding probable cause to
convict petitioner for violation of Section 68 of PD 705 as amended.

24

ISSUE/S:
Whether a person who cuts trees for his own use within his property
without the necessary permit from the DENR and without transporting the
same outside said property, be criminally charged for violating PD 705
Whether the owner of a private land, the petitioner in this case, is
criminally liable under Section 68 of PD 705 for cutting trees within his
own property
RULING:
The Court denied the petition for lack of merit.
Section 68 of PD 705, as amended by E.O. 277, otherwise known as
the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines provides:
SEC. 68. Cutting, Gathering and/or collecting Timber, or Other Forest
Products Without License.- Any person who shall cut, gather, collect,
remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber
from alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without
any authority, or possess timber or other forest products without the legal
documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be
punished with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the
Revised Penal Code:Provided, That in case of partnerships, associations,
or corporations, the officers who ordered the cutting, gathering, collection
or possession shall be liable, and if such officers are aliens, they shall, in
addition to the penalty, be deported without further proceedings on the
part of the Commission on Immigration and Deportation.
The Court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government
of the timber or any forest products cut, gathered, collected, removed, or
possessed, as well as the machinery, equipment, implements and tools
illegally used in the area where the timber or forest products are found.
Under Section 68, PD 705 as amended by E.O. 277, it is clear that the
violators of the said law are not declared as being guilty of qualified theft.
Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code were referred to only for the
purpose of determining the imposable penalties and not to define acts
which constitute qualified theft. Petitioner's argument that the provisions
of the law regarding qualified theft should not be applied to him since he is
the owner of the property is devoid of merit. It must be stressed that
petitioner is not being charged for qualified theft but for violation of Section
68, PD 705 hence his ownership of the land is of no moment. The said law
does not even distinguish whether or not the person who commits the
punishable acts under the aforementioned law is the owner of the property,
for what is material in determining the culpability of a person is whether or
not the person or entity involved or charged with its violation possesses the
25

required permit, license or authorization from DENR at the time he or it


cuts, gathers or collects timber or other forest products.
As to his assertion that his penalty for cutting trees in his own land
should not be equated with that for qualified theft, suffice it to say that the
judiciary is never concerned with the wisdom of the law. Whether or not the
legislature was correct in imposing on violators of PD 705 a penalty equal to
that imposable on those guilty of qualified theft is a question beyond the
power of this Court to resolve. It is a settled rule that the fundamental duty
of the Court is to apply the law regardless of who may be affected, even if
the law is harsh - dura lex sed lex. The remedy is elsewhere - clemency from
the executive or an amendment of the law by the legislature.

26