Arming forest rangers

September 08, 2019

ILLEGAL loggers recently killed a personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, prompting DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu to order his forest guards to undergo arms training.

A retired four-star military general, Cimatu, who used to head the powerful Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), said that the agency’s forest rangers are being trained to handle shotguns.

“I initiated the weapons training of my enforcers kasi pinapatay po ang mga tao namin…Hindi naman kami pwedeng mag-hire ng security guards to help us in patrolling (our forests),” said Cimatu.

Environment Undersecretary Benny D. Antiporda, on the other hand, called on the leadership of the House of Representatives to come up with a law creating a DENR enforcement bureau.

Antiporda, a former president of the National Press Club, directed his appeal to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Majority Leader and Leyte 1st District Rep. Martin G. Romualdez.

Romualdez, an environmentalist and president of the influential Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa), cited Cimatu’s “exemplary performance” as top honcho of the DENR.

The Leyte solon, a lawyer and banker by profession, said Cimatu displayed his political will in the rehabilitation of Boracay, the country’s top tourist destination, and historic Manila Bay.

Romualdez even described the soft-spoken but highly-effective Cimatu as “the best DENR secretary ever.”

Various quarters said the killing of the DENR personnel has thrust out front the need to create the proposed bureau as part of the campaign against violators of environmental laws and rules.

Soldiers and policemen have been accompanying DENR forest rangers while conducting patrols in various parts of the country, according to Secretary Cimatu.

Certainly, training DENR forest rangers to handle shotguns is a move in the right direction considering the continued existence of illegal loggers in various parts of the Philippines.