Finding Justice for Didin the Sonari Worm Hunter

Thursday, 18 May 2017 , 09:00:00 WIB - Law

Tree planting at Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park (ANTARA)

JAKARTA, GRES.NEWS - Lately, a roasted corn hawker named Didin (48) is accused of damaging the environment when he hunted Sonari worms in Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park (TNGP). The issue is considered obstructing the sense of justice. The House’s Commission III member Arsul Sani considers that Didin’s case shows that law enforcers don’t understand the law.

Arsul said that law enforcers don’t understand the law because they detain Didin for hunting worm in forest area, not for illegal logging.

"Law No.41/1999 on Forestry juncto Law No.18/2013 on Forest Damage Prevention and Eradication authorizes foresty civil servant investigators (PPNS) or forest rangers to uphold the law on forestry to handle forest damages, particularly illegal logging, not to deal with individual cases like what happened to Didin who entered the forest just to hunt earthworms," Arsul explained in the Parliament Building, Wednesday (17/5).

He said that law enforcers must uphold the law based on the restorative justice. Law enforcers must embrace the principle if they face a small damage caused by worm hunting by restoring the small damage in the forest. They shouldn’t commence legal proceedings against small people like Didin.

"When they face massive illegal logging cases that involved plantation companies, law enforcers are not working hard to commence legal proceedings against them, it’s very ironic," Arsul explained.

Previously, Didin was arrested for hunting Sonari worms in Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park (TNGP). He’s been detained since March 24, 2017, for allegedly violating Article 78 Paragraph (5) and/or Paragraph (12) juncto Article 50 Paragraph (3) letter e and/or letter m Law No.41/1999 on Forestry.

Responding to the issue, the House’s Commission VII asserts they will hold a meeting with the Environment and Forestry Ministry. Member of the House’s Commission VII, Joko Purwanto, once visited Didin (48) in a prison cell at the Cianjur Police, West Java, and listened to Didin’s testimony.

Joko said that Didin’s testimony will be discussed at the meeting of the House’s Commissions. As a member of the House’s Commission that handles environmental issues, Joko asserts that he visited Didin to obtain information from both parties.

Joko said he will keep looking into the case to make it clear so the questions over Didin’s activity that’s considered damaging the forest when he hunted for earthworms, including the type of worm, would be answered.

NOT CRIMINALIZATION - Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment and Foresty, Siti Nurbaya, said the legal proceedings against Didin (48) is not a form of criminalization. Didin didn’t only hunt Sonari worms but he also damaged the forest in Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park (TNGP).

Siti explained that the legal proceedings against Didin are based on the reports from the national park on illegal activities in TNGP. Didin is now detained by the forest rangers. "The worm hunting activity has been going on for several times, and the hunters have to cut the trees, build huts, and burn the woods for ignition to get the worms," Siti stated, Saturday (13/5).

According to Siti, they sell Sonari worms for Rp40,000 per worm. "So they get millions or tens of thousands. They often get many worms, and they usually work in a group," she said.

Siti added that the illegal activity has damaged the national park. Siti also said that TNGP officials have warned them. Therefore, the illegal activity will continue if they don’t take action against the worm hunters immediately.

Now, the legal proceedings against Didin are ongoing. Therefore, Siti declined they’ve criminalized Didin. "It’s not true that we criminalized people who need worms for remedy because the worms are for sale," she said.

Meanwhile, Didin claimed that he didn’t damage the forest, but he only hunted Sonari worms that stuck on Kadaka trees. He hopes that he would get a lighter punishment. Didin claimed that he doesn’t know anything about the 35 hectares of damaged forest in TNGP.

He was shocked when he’s accused of damaging the forest. "I don’t know anything about that. I looked for worms that stuck on Kadaka plants because Sonari worms stick on the tree trunks," Didin said. (dtc)