More soldiers deployed to guard forestsPhilippine Daily Inquirer
FORT DEL PILAR, Baguio City—The Army is deploying more soldiers to guard the forests in Mindanao, to help secure government forest rangers who fall victim to well-armed illegal loggers, Army chief Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said on Saturday.
Bautista, who graced this year’s recognition ceremonies for 121 plebes belonging to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) “Gabay-Laya” (Guardians of Freedom) Class of 2016, said increased military presence would be concentrated in eastern and northeastern Mindanao and the Caraga Administrative Region.
The Caraga region is composed of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and the cities of Surigao and Butuan.
“The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said these areas in Mindanao are very hard to penetrate because the illegal loggers are armed. What the Armed Forces can do is deploy military forces to help curb illegal logging practices,” Bautista said.
The military would use new equipment acquired under the Armed Forces modernization program to fight illegal loggers, he said, adding that the Army needs to determine what equipment would be appropriate for the forested regions.
The Army is part of the composite groups assigned by a government task force to guard forests in other parts of the country, including the Cordillera and Cagayan.
“The deployment of troops is the AFP’s meaningful contribution to address the problem of deforestation. The DENR is threatened because the agency has been losing personnel such as foresters, [who] get killed by armed illegal loggers,” Bautista said.
Addressing PMA cadets, Bautista spoke about the military’s evolving role.
He said: “The role of the military is evolving, the Army is undergoing transformation, the instruments are new … The reason for change is the nation and the people. A longer and harder road awaits. Live up to your standards as PMA cadets. There will be times that you will ask yourself the question, ‘What am I doing here? But it’s about service before self.”
Members of Class of Gabay-Laya were officially absorbed into the corps of cadets in traditional rites witnessed by their parents. Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon