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DENR celebrates 14th anniversary; honors dead and wounded heroes

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) marks its 14th anniversary today at the Lungsod ng Kalikasan, Ninoy Aquino Park and Wildlife grounds in Quezon City by giving recognition to the department’s employees killed or injured in the line of duty.

DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez is set to institutionalize the Environmental Heroes Award, dubbed "Bayani ng Kalikasan," which will be conferred to deserving DENR personnel; and the Fr. Nero Satur Award, which will be given to those who died in the line of duty.

Sixteen DENR employees, one of whom was killed, will be recognized for the "exemplary performance of their jobs as protectors of the environment."

Ruel Bautista died after his team’s truck, which was transporting a large volume of lumber seized in Sta. Maria, Laguna, collided with another vehicle along the Manila South Road in Mabitac. Other members of the team injured in the accident were Isidro Mercado, Virgilio Susbilla; Forest Rangers Felino de la Torre, Cesar Quirante, Perfecto Manalastas, Larry Polinag and Roberto Duran; Foresters Gabriel Valdez, Edilberto Sanoz, Norberto Capacio, Rolando Hombrobueno, Adolfo Castanar, Mario Refresca and Manolo Delgado. All were assigned to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENTRO) in Los Baños, Laguna.

Forest Ranger Eufronio de Villa of the Provincial Special Operations Group (PSOG) in Mauban, Quezon, was wounded after a suspected illegal logger shot him while he was on a surveillance mission in the area. He chanced upon an alleged illegal bandsaw operation and was shot as he tried to apprehend the suspects. De Villa is still recuperating and his assailant has been arrested.

Aside from the awards, the DENR is also expected to drum up its partnership with non-government organizations (NGOs) in implementing the department’s plans, programs and projects.

The tie up with NGOs was institutionalized by Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 16, creating the DENR’s Civil Society Action Network (CSAN).

In a statement, Alvarez vowed to lead the department "through a culture of transparency where decisions will be made based on social acceptability and national interest."

"The DENR shall be the dynamic force behind people’s initiatives in the protection, preservation and management of the environment through strategic alliances and partnerships, participative processes, relevant policies and programs and appropriate information technology towards sustainable development," he added.

The department will also launch the "TXT, E-mail DENR" project, much like Malacañang’s "TXT GMA", and encourage the public to send their complaints and suggestions to the department.

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