DENR moves for creation of enforcement bureau
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - September 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Secretary Roy Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is calling for the enactment of a law creating an enforcement bureau within the agency.

“We believe that the creation of an enforcement bureau under the DENR can effectively stop illegal logging, smuggling of wildlife species and other environmental crimes,” Cimatu pointed out.

The DENR chief appealed to House members present during the recent budget hearing to help the DENR install this enforcement bureau at the soonest time possible.

This developed after Cimatu condemned the brutal killing of DENR forest ranger Bienvenido Veguilla Jr. by suspected illegal loggers in El Nido, Palawan recently.

“I will never allow another crime such as the killing of Mr. Veguilla to happen to any of my people. This incident shows how greed and disregard for our laws can have appalling consequences on people and our society,” Cimatu added.

Reports reaching the DENR central office in Quezon City showed that Veguilla – together with fellow forest ranger Jenuel Casel, forest extension officer Herson Caliao, and park rangers Marvin Flamiano, Godensio Caber and Norlito Jongay – were conducting forest patrol in the afternoon of Sept. 4 in an area covered by the National Greening Program when they heard the sound of a chainsaw as they passed through Barangay Pasadena.

Veguilla’s group followed the sound until they saw some men slicing a felled tree with a chainsaw. These men suddenly ran away upon seeing the DENR team, leaving behind the chainsaw which Veguilla’s group was able to secure.

On their way home and about a hundred meters away from the site, the DENR forest officers were chased by a group of six men armed with a bolo. Veguilla was able to fire his service weapon as he and his companions were running for safety.

However, Veguilla was cornered and hacked to death, while the others were able to seek help from the nearby barangay and police offices.

Veguilla sustained deep, multiple stab wounds on the head, arms and other parts of the body.

One of the suspects identified as Filman Flores was wounded by Veguilla’s shots and was brought to hospital.

Flores and another suspect, Gerardo Fulgencio, are now under police custody. A manhunt operation is ongoing for the remaining four suspects.

Earlier, the DENR chief said they have subjected to training forest rangers on the use of shotgun for their protection.

Cimatu said the standard operating procedure is every time patrolling activities are conducted, these forest rangers should be accompanied by personnel from the Philippine National Police or the Army.

He added that their move is limited to that for now as there is no law authorizing them to arm forest rangers.

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