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DENR wants to arm forest guards

CAMP VICENTE LIM, Laguna , Philippines – Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in the Calabarzon region (Region 4-A) want to arm forest rangers following the killing of forest guard Elpidio Malinao in Bay, Laguna last May 9.

Superintendent Dante Novicio, Los Baños police chief, said DENR-Calabarzon officials are asking authorities to allow forest guards to undergo comprehensive law enforcement training to prepare them for having firearms.

Novicio said local officials and police authorities led by Senior Superintendent Gilbert Cruz, Laguna police director, are meeting today to discuss new security measures for the region’s forest guards, including the proposal to arm them.

Malinao, a resident of Los Baños, was attacked by a lone gunman in Bay town. He died from two bullet wounds in the head.

Quoting witnesses, Cruz said the gunman parked his blue Honda Wave motorcycle with faded license plate in front of the Aqua Golden Crystal at around 2:15 p.m. last May 9.

Cruz said Malinao could have killed due to an old grudge or in connection with his job as a forest guard.

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He said Malinao had just attended a hearing as prosecution witness in a case against suspected illegal loggers in the Bay municipal trial court when he was killed.

Cruz said probers have good leads in the Malinao killing after an eyewitness identified the suspect – who has a pending arrest warrant for murder and car theft – in the police rogues’ gallery.

Another forest guard, Anselmo Bulanhagui, was shot dead while manning a checkpoint in Sta. Maria town, also in Laguna, three years ago.

Since June last year, a forest guard in the Cordilleras, four others in the Caraga region, and an environment officer in Samar were also slain.

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