THE Philippine National Police (PNP) is checking reports that the illegal loggers who attacked a team of policemen in Cagayan province are being defended by a mayor.
Cagayan Valley Regional Police Office Director Crizaldo Nieves said they had received reports that Ernest Sibbaluca, one of the suspects arrested for the attack, was working for a mayor. He declined to identify the mayor.
“Actually, we’re validating that,” Nieves said.
“That’s what it’s saying, but, you know, it’s hard to talk until we’re confirmed. We finally settled the case. As for me, whoever his backer is, I wouldn’t include him as long as there’s evidence, ”he added.
Nieves said he had already ordered concerned police managers to conduct an investigation into the extent of involvement of police politicians and other personalities in illegal logging activities.
On Saturday, November 28, 2020, PNP Chief Debold Sinas ordered a state-wide manslaughter against the group of illegal loggers who fired police conducting operations in Sitio Dalayat, Minanga, Lagum Peñablanca, Cagayan on Thursday, November 26.
Police Lieutenant Randy Baccay, the deputy police chief of Pañablanca Police Station, was wounded in the said incident.
Sibbaluca was arrested while the others were able to escape.
Police Captain Rohaina Asalan, Peñablanca Police Station police chief, said Sibbaluca had an arrest record in September 2019 for violating Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forest Code of the Philippines.
Sibbaluca faces criminal charges for directly assaulting an authority agent and frustrated murder.
Illegal logging activities, other than releasing too much water from the Magat Dam, were blamed for the devastating floods that flooded much of Cagayan and Isabela provinces after Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco).
Earlier, Secretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, Eduardo Año, admitted that some local government executives were involved in the illegal activities.
Meanwhile, Nieves said a total of 804 people in Isabela and Cagayan were newly evacuated due to the threat of another flood brought about by the rising water level in the Cagayan River near Buntun Bridge.
The water level has already reached 8.48 meters, which falls within the alert level.
He said the evacuation of the families in the vulnerable communities began around 5 am on Sunday, November 29.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said at 7 am on Sunday that low lying areas near the lower Cagayan River could be flooded due to the rain caused by the thaw of the front and east system.
These include Peñabalanca, Tuguegarao City, Enrile, Solana, Iguig, Amulung, Alcala, Baggao, Lasam, Gattaran, Lallo, Camalaniugan and Aparri.
At 6 am Pagasa reported that two gates of the Magat Dam remain open to release excess water. (SunStar Philippines)