DENR, NBI lead “warrantless” arrests on forest land settlers in Boracay

DENR, NBI lead “warrantless” arrests on forest land settlers in Boracay

BORACAY ISLAND (via INews)–A team from the National Bureau of Environmental Crime Division (NBI-EnCD) and personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) arrested today a number of individuals here, most of whom are foreigners, in what appeared to be a warrantless arrest during a raid on establishments that were said to be illegally sitting on forest land.

In a raw report, it was said that the apprehending team stormed business establishments in Mt. Luho, near the Bulabog beach, and arrested the occupants for allegedly violating various laws including Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, the Water Code of the Philippines, and Malay Municipal Ordinance 131 on easement.

The suspects, reportedly numbering 10, are currently detained and will be brought to the Regional Trial Court in Kalibo tomorrow for inquest proceedings.

An inquest is a summary proceeding where the suspect is informed of his offense and the evidence against him. A suspect undergoes inquest if he is arrested without a warrant or caught during operations while committing a crime or escaping from detention.

An NBI official, whose identity is still being confirmed by INews, claimed the arrested individuals were caught “sitting on forest land.”

“These people have long been occupying the forest land in violation of our laws,” the NBI team leader was quoted as saying during the arrest.

In 2006, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation 1064 delineating the island into forest land and classified it as alienable and disposable.

The Proclamation categorized 628.96 hectares or 60.94 percent of the island as alienable and disposable–ownership is transferable–and the rest as forest land and protected areas.

Presidential Decree 705, or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines signed in 1975, defined alienable and disposable lands as public lands that have “been the subject of the present system of classification and declared as not needed for forest purposes.”

Under PD 705, lands classified as forest land cannot be used if no permit is issued by the DENR.

The arrested individuals, according to the NBI, have existing establishments in the area of Mt. Luho, which is classified as forest land or a marine reserve area.

Some of the suspects, whose establishments are sitting on a protected area, were also arrested in Diniwid.

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