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Aquino v. People of the Philippines G.R. No.

165448, July 27, 2009, 594 SCRA 50


Syllabus:
There are two distinct and separate offenses punished under Section 68 of PD No. 705, to wit: (1) the cutting, gathering, collecting
and removing of 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) the possession of timber or other forest products without the legal documents required
under existing laws and regulations.
The provision clearly punishes anyone who shall cut, gather, collect or 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. In this case, petitioner was charged
by the CENRO to supervise the implementation of the permit. He was not the one who cut, gathered, collected or removedthe pine
trees within the contemplation of Section 68 of PD No. 705. He was not in possession of the cut trees because the lumber was used
by Teachers’ Camp for repairs. Petitioner could not likewise be convicted of conspiracy to commit the offense because all his co-
accused were acquitted of the charges against them.
Facts:
Sergio Guzman applied for a permit with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to cut down 14 dead
Benguet pine trees within the Teachers’ Camp in Baguio City to be used for the repairs in Teachers’ Camp. Before the permit was
issued, a team composed of members from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) and Michael Cuteng,
a forest ranger, conducted an inspection of the trees to be cut. Afterwards, the DENR issued a permit allowing the cutting of 14
trees.
Sometime after, certain forest rangers received information that unauthorized cutting of pine trees were taking place at the
Teachers’ Camp. When they visited the site, they found, among others, Ernesto Aquino, Santiago, and Cuteng. Santiago was one of
the sawyers and Aquino was the one appointed to supervise the cutting. The forest rangers discovered that the trees cut were
beyond the number allowed by the permit. Consequently, the forest rangers filed a case against all those present in the site for
violation of Section 68 of PD No. 705. The trial court decided to convict Aquino, Santiago and Cuteng and acquitted the others. When
Aquino, Santiago and Cuteng appealed the case, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment only as to Aquino. Therefore, Santiago
and Cuteng were acquitted from the charge. Aquino appealed with the Supreme Court.
Issue:
Whether petitioner Aquino, who supervised the cutting of the pine trees, is guilty of violating Section 68 of the Revised Forestry
Code.
Ruling:
No. Aquino is not guilty of violating Section 68 of the Revised Forestry Code.
Section 68 of the Revised Forestry Code provides two distinct and separate offenses:
(a) 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 (b) Possession of timber or other forest products without the
legal documents required under existing forest laws and regulations.
The aforesaid provision clearly states that it “punishes anyone who shall cut, gather, collect or 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.” In
the case at bar, Aquino was not the one who cut, gathered, collected or removed the pine trees. He was merely the person charged
by the CENRO to supervise the implementation of the permit. He was also not the one in possession of the cut trees because the
lumber was used by Teachers’ Camp.
Although Aquino may have been remiss in his duties when he failed to restrain the sawyers from cutting trees more than what was
covered by the permit, this fact could only make him administratively liable. “It is not enough to convict him under Section 68 of PD
No. 705.”