Five Vietnamese were caught by the authorities in two separate operations in Butuan City after being caught with kilos of agarwood wedges from the Lapnisan tree which is illegally cut down.
It is strictly prohibited to cut down Lapnisan trees as they are already endangered or seriously at the risk of extinction.
The extract from the agarwood is used to make perfumes, incense, and a lot of other natural medicines for different types of illnesses.
In some instances, the high-quality agarwood could go as high as $100,000 per kilo.
The Vietnamese, who were caught in joint operations by the Police Regional Office in Caraga (PRO-13) and the region’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-13), were in possession of over P1 million worth of Agarwood and around P5.8 million in cash.
The five foreigners, who were presented by PRO-13 to the media were identified as NguyÊn Thi Chung, 40 years old, DiÊl Thi BÍch HÒa, 45 years old, and VŪ VÃn Trang, 34 years old.
All of them were arrested at the Grand Palace Hotel in Purok 1, Barangay Imadejas, Butuan City on the 25th of July near midnight.
Also arrested were Tu Quoc Vu, 35, and To Tien Phat, 22, who were caught around 5 a.m. on the 26th of July, 2019 at the Butuan airport during the inspection of their bags and belongings.
The first three men were arrested after they went in the hotel and were caught with two kilos of Agarwood and P1,874,650 cash, as stated by Police Brigadier General Gilberto DC Cruz, PR0-13 chief.
The said suspects will be charged in violation of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines under Presidential Decree 705, as ammended by RA 7161 and according to the DENR personnel RA 9147 or Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act for the trade and transport of the said species.
The police are now trying to verify their passports to know which terminal they used to enter the country.