DIFFUN, Quirino—A 59-year-old forester died on the spot on January 1 at 12:30 a.m., when he was gunned down with an armalite rifle by still unidentified men as he was trying to prevent the entry of a wood-loaded truck at a checkpoint in Barangay (village) San Pedro in Maddela, Quirino, sketchy reports from local police and environment officials, said.
Alfredo Almueda, community environment and natural resources officer based in Nagtipunan, Quirino and former officer-in-charge of the provincial environment and natural resources office in Isabela, was met with a volley of gunfire when he rushed to the checkpoint after getting a text message from his subordinates that a wood-loaded truck was going to be sneaked outside his area, reports stated.
Maddela, a far-flung town in Quirino province is one of the areas covered under the community environment jurisdiction of the office of Almueda.
Environment Regional Executive Director Benjamin Tumaliuan, who was distraught with the news, was waiting for further developments from the investigation of the police as he declined to immediately comment on the killing.
There were reports that Environment Secretary Ramon Paje had been informed that Almueda and his men went to the checkpoint after the forester received the text message about the contraband wood.
“CENRO Almueda is the top-performing community environment officer in Cagayan Valley region from 2010 to 2012 so his work ethic is above par,” Tumaliuan said.
Forester Mindo Aquino, Isabela coordinator for National Greening Program, described Almueda as friendly, result-oriented, energetic and driving force for his subordinates.
“Apparently, the gunmen escaped unscathed as the villagers are busy celebrating the onset of 2013,” Aquino added.
Almueda’s killing was “saddening,” according to Aquino, as the death of 47-year-old lady forester Melania Dirain on Feb. 7, 2012, in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan, was less than a year ago. Dirain was earlier posthumously feted by the Civil Service Commission for her courage in environmental protection.
Tumaliuan and three other regional environment officers reactivated the inter-region task force as they strengthened anti-illegal logging activities in Cagayan Valley, Southern Tagalog, Cordillera Administrative Region and Ilocos Region. They established checkpoints along the tri-boundaries in the said regions.