BAGUIO CITY – The Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR) formally accepted the offer of Bishop Carlito J. Cenzon for the agency to acquire the services of four well-known volunteer lawyers from the city to assist the public prosecutors in working out the prosecution of Rep. Nicasio M. Aliping, Jr. and three property developers in relation to the charges for violation of the provisions of Prsidential Decree (PD) 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines that were recommended for fling against them.
In his letter to Bishop Cenzon, Engr. Ralph Pablo, DENR-CAR officer-in-charge, accepted the offer for the voluntary services of lawyers Reynaldo U. Agranzamendez, Renato S. Rondes, Ceasar G. Oracion and Miguel B. Liceralde considering that it is in accordance with the rules of procedure in environmental cases.
Pablo cited the role of special prosecutor which states that in criminal cases, where there is no private offended party, a counsel whose services are offered by an individual or an organization may be allowed by the court as a special prosecutor, with the consent of and subject to the control of the public prosecutor.
However, the DENR-CAR official disclosed the participation of the volunteer lawyer in the prosecution of Aliping’s highly publicized environmental case shall be subject to the conditions that the prosecution of the case shall be under the control of the public prosecutor who will be assigned to prosecute the case and that their expenses, if there will be any, shall be borne by the concerned organization that recommended their voluntary services.
Pablo said the volunteer lawyers can now start rendering their services in evaluating the cases filed by the justice department against Aliping and Goldrich Construction, BLC Construction and Aggregates and R.U.Aquino Construction and Development Corporation.
Earlier, Pablo received a Memorandum dated March 19, 2015 from the DENR Chief of Staff, Atty. Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, endorsing Cenzon’s letter dated March 10, 2015 regarding his offer for the services of volunteer lawyers to assist the DENR in the prosecution of the case filed against Rep. Aliping and three property developers for violation of Section 77 (illegal cutting) and Section 78(unlawful occupation) of PD 705 and that he was directed to take action on the said matter.
The case stemmed from the previous act of Aliping to fell at least 1,000 assorted trees and saplings within the Mount Sto. Tomas watershed without the benefit of the required tree cutting permit and the excavation of portions of the forest reservation without securing the required excavation permit from the local government of Tuba, Benguet and concerned government agencies.
The justice department found probable cause in the fling of the appropriate cases against Aliping and his three cohorts considering that their respective reasons were not accepted by the assigned prosecutors hearing the case.
The Ombudsman for Environment was directed to file the case against Aliping considering that his Salary Grade is within the jurisdiction of the constitutional body while the cases of the three property developers were recommended for fling with the local courts of Benguet. By Dexter A. See