By Aira Genesa Magdayao
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu condemned the reported arrest of environment personnel by the Philippine National Police (PNP) here.
“It is totally unacceptable that these environmental enforcers who continue to perform their duties despite the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) pandemic have to suffer violence at the hands of the police,” Cimatu said in a statement.
P/Col. Marion Balonglong has been relieved as Puerto Princesa City police chief after he allegedly pointed his gun and arrested foresters under the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) who were scheduled to serve a notice to vacate on illegal settlers at a mangrove area in Barangay Bucana last June 10.
According to Barangay Bucana official Ryan Abueme, the CENRO personnel were not able to serve the notice to vacate because of the intervention of Balonglong and his companions.
Abueme said the CENRO personnel were ordered to lie down on the ground while a gun was pointed at them.
Balonglong was subsequently relieved from his post last June 12.
But Puerto Princesa City Information Officer Richard Ligad said Balonglong had asked that he be relieved of his post.
“(Balonglong) told me he personally requested his relief. We had a good relationship with him,” Ligad said.
P/Col. Sergio Vibar will be replacing Balonglong.