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(From Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Byline: Luz Rimban, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
(Last of two parts)
OF ALL the companies cutting trees in Quezon and Aurora provinces, Green Circle Properties and Resources Inc. stands out. For one, Green Circle is not a wood-based company. For another, its president, Romeo Roxas, burns money literally.
At public meetings, Roxas shocks crowds of peasants, environmental activists, community leaders and local government officials each time he sets fire to crisp peso bills. It's just to make a point, and the point is, according to those who heard him say it, is this: "It's easy to make money, and easy to find funding for development projects. Money is not a problem."
Considering that Roxas is also a director of Philippine Veterans Bank, it's obvious where he's coming from. Indeed, he does not seem to run out of funds for a variety of enterprises that range from real estate and construction to banking. He could very well have a green thumb when it comes to business, because his companies are named Green Circle, Green Square, Green Dreams and Green Earth.
Perhaps the biggest of all his businesses is Green Circle, which has a special private land timber license (SPLTL) covering 28,000 hectares of land in Aurora and Quezon, an area much bigger than Quezon City and larger even than Batanes. It is the biggest privately owned property in what Roxas has called the country's "Wild, Wild East."
Green Circle's timber area is spread out over the towns of Dingalan, Aurora and General Nakar, Quezon, and is one of only five timber license holders in Aurora.
An SPLTL is like a timber license agreement but involves private land, alienable or forest land, or disposable land covering a huge area. Harvesting of hardwood trees is one of the …