PNP investigates shooting of 2 Masungi forest rangers

PNP investigates shooting of 2 Masungi forest rangers
A police officer takes photos of an illegal clearing in the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape during a documentation mission to mark World Rainforest Day on June 22, 2021.
Ernie Peñaredondo

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine National Police has ordered a thorough investigation into the July 24 shooting of two forest rangers guarding the Masungi Georeserve in Baras, Rizal.

Masungi said that police personnel were stationed “just around the corner” from the site where the attack happened. Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment also described the attack as "brazen and [done] virtually in plain sight of police."

In a statement sent to reporters, Police Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, PNP chief, said he has tasked the local police to "ensure the protection of forest rangers in the area."

Eleazar, however, did not address the proximity of the attack to the police Special Action Force outpost and instead said the PNP has offered "training programs for forest rangers" in the wake of the incident.  

The SAF is the police's elite commando unit. 

READ: Masungi Georeserve calls for action, protection after shooting of 2 forest rangers

"This is not the first incident of intimidation, assault, and killing of forest rangers because several similar cases have been recorded by police in Palawan and other places in recent years," said Eleazar.

"Because of this, I have instructed our PNP Training Service to liaise with the DENR in training self-defense, threat detection, and other self-protection preparations for our forest rangers nationwide," he added.

The shooting took place a little over a week after the Department of the Interior and Local Government urged the filing of criminal and administrative charges against several local officials and establishments over encroachment in the Upper Marikina Watershed.

Police Col. Joseph Arguelles, Rizal provincial police chief, told Philstar.com on Sunday that the case is still under investigation.

Eleazar in his statement stressed that past incidents of harassment against the forest rangers must be looked into.

"The role of rangers is important for the enforcement of environmental laws in our protected areas, particularly vigilance against illegal logging and other illegal activities that damage the environment," said Eleazar.

"We will not allow people who take care of our environment to be just sitting targets," the PNP chief added.

SPECIAL REPORT: Not easy being green: The environment and its defenders under Duterte

The Upper Marikina Watershed is a protected area that forms the upper part of the drainage basin of the Marikina River. It covers areas in Antipolo City, Baras, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Tanay. — Franco Luna with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico 

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