Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu is hopeful that Malacañang would certify a proposed measure creating an enforcement bureau within the DENR as urgent, following the murder of another forest ranger in Agusan del Sur last Oct. 28.
“Regrettably, yet another one of our frontliners was killed last Oct. 28 during an anti-illegal logging operation in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur,” Cimatu said.
DENR forest guard Marianito Rufano was allegedly killed by armed men while leading a two-day retrieval operation of some 12,911 board feet of abandoned premium Lauan and Toog timber seized from an illegal logging activity on Sitio Kiatsan, Barangay Bunawan Brook.
Records from the DENR-Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force showed that four environmental workers have been killed while performing their duties in 2019.
Last May, forester Fernando Polenio was also shot dead by an unidentified assailant while doing field work in Palo, Leyte.
Cimatu reiterated that the establishment of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau will “help save the lives of our frontliners who are in the trenches of fighting environmental crimes.”
He said that further delay in the establishment of the EPEB “is putting the lives of our environmental frontliners at greater risks.”
The DENR chief said he will formally ask the President’s certification at the meeting of the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation, and Disaster Risk Reduction scheduled this month.
“I am confident that the House and the Senate are behind the EPEB bill and that Malacañang will certify the same as urgent,” Cimatu said.
The President’s certification would allow Congress to immediately pass the proposed law on third and final reading.
Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda filed House Bill 6973 establishing the EPEB under the DENR last June 15 while Sen. Nancy Binay filed a counterpart measure, Senate Bill 1878, last Oct. 12.