“No longer just pen and paper”

  

testfiring-2“No longer just pen and paper.” This was the sigh of relief of Arnil Junia, a forest protection officer of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) attending a training on proper gun handling, operation, and firing by the Philippine National Police on November 8, 2017.

Forester Junia shared how demoralizing it is for a field officer to face armed violators without any tool but pen and paper. He added that their lives as forest officers are often in danger every time they apprehend illegal loggers, kaingineros, and wildlife poachers.

Another forest protection officer, Mark Anthony Gabuco, shared that, more often than not, they encounter violent resistance when they apprehend violators. Gabuco emphasized the need to improve their capacity to defend themselves so they can efficiently perform their job as law enforcer.

Junia and Gabuco, both from Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Brooke’s Point, are among the 143 forest officers undergoing training on law enforcement and forest protection in Puerto Princesa on November 6-10, 2017. Apart from gun handling and test firing, the training also includes lectures on challenges to environmental protection, human rights, and arrest protocols, among others. The training was prompted by recent violent incidents against forest officers in the province.

Last August 23, Forester Joselito Eyala was wounded when he and his team were ambushed while patrolling the mountains of Puerto Princesa City. Then on September 14, an active member of El Nido Environmental Law Enforcement Council (ENELEC), Barangay Captain Ruben Arzaga, was shot dead by illegal loggers whom he and other members of the council were about to apprehend.

In his message to the trainees, Secretary Roy Cimatu stressed the need to equip “those who watch the forests in the enforcement of environmental laws especially in illegal logging hot spots.” This explains why, according to the Secretary, “empowering our field personnel has always been [his] top priority.”

Meanwhile, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Director Natividad Bernardino explains that the training, the first to be held nationwide, becomes even more relevant because the trainees are tasked to protect the country’s last ecological frontier.

Apart from the training, which will also be held in all provinces, DENR is working out modalities how its forest officers can be allowed to use firearms during operations, providing better monitoring equipment, and forging closer cooperation with the military, police, coast guards, and civil society in order to improve forest protection.

 

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PANGAPAT

DENR apprehends driver transporting dead wildlife

The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Puerto Princesa City, together with the Philippine National Police, apprehended today the driver of an unplated elf truck carrying dead marine turtles and pangolins while passing through a security checkpoint station in Brgy. Sta. Lourdes.

Officials of CENRO PPC's Regulation and Enforcement Unit assigned in the station identified the driver as Joshue A. Calinog, who was also found to have an unlicensed .38 caliber pistol.

Palawan’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Felizardo Cayatoc said Calinog was driving the truck loaded with 21 pangolins which scales were removed and then frozen; and 16 marine turtles (one green and 15 hawksbill), which intestinal parts were also removed and with only their heads and shells left intact. Pangolins and sea turtles are endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Authorities reported that the truck was from Roxas town. They have questioned Calinog but he had kept mum about the species. The driver was turned over to the police, while the wildlife species were brought to Palawan Council for Sustainable Development for proper documentation.

As this develops, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Director Henry Adornado has instructed the PENRO and CENRO concerned to coordinate with the authorities for the immediate filing of appropriate charges against the offender in view of the provisions of Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, and other laws. He also instructed all regional and field personnel to be more vigilant and intensify monitoring operations to track down and prevent unscrupulous individuals or groups from harming nature and wildlife.

“It was clear from the President’s State of the Nation Address. Protection of the environment must be our top priority. It will be a long journey and we are certain we will face a lot of challenges ahead. But we are more than ready to heed the call. Strategic measures are already in place and we are closely working with other agencies to strictly implement environmental laws and improve our operations. We can assure the public that we, at the DENR, uphold the welfare of our environment and natural resources above all else,” he said. ###

Photo Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources celebrated its 31st founding anniversary at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (Amphitheater) on July 4, 2018.

Themed “Ikaw, ako, tayo ang kalikasan,” the celebration aims to remind everyone his/her own duty to protect the environment and conserve the natural resources.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s pronouncement in his third State of the Nation Address

DENR MIMAROPA, partner groups cleanup Calapan coastline; share commitment to end plastic pollution

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