DENR vows more cops to protect foresters
TUGUEGARAO CITY—Environment Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio Jr. said better security for forest rangers and other people tasked with stopping illegal logging would be in place, following the Jan. 1 murder of community environment and natural resources officer Alfredo Almueda Jr. in Maddela, Quirino.
Ignacio said a composite task force against illegal logging would be augmented here by policemen and soldiers detailed in the area.
An inter-regional team of government foresters and forest managers, who agreed last year to jointly monitor their shared forest borders for illegal logging shipments, has requested for a larger contingent of military personnel to help them, the Inquirer learned on Thursday.
A source from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Baguio City said the team wanted the same security support given to Mindanao foresters, and had asked the government to improve their insurance coverage because of the hazards they face in patrolling the forest borders of Cordillera, Cagayan Valley, Ilocos and Central Luzon.
The source asked not to be identified while the agency discussed its options following Almueda’s murder.
Almueda was gunned down by two men while on a stakeout with two other foresters at a DENR checkpoint in Barangay Villa Sur in Maddela at around 1:30 a.m. on Jan. 1.
Dr. Maneth Almueda, the slain forester’s daughter, said they did not know that their father had slipped out of the house after the New Year Eve’s revelry to try and catch illegal loggers.
She said her father had confided to them about death threats he had been receiving but he chose to pursue his cases instead of cowering in fear.
Ignacio said Almueda’s murder has galvanized the government to intensify its illegal logging campaign.
“It does not mean that we will stop running after them (illegal logging syndicates). Instead, we will even be more vigilant and will not be frightened by anyone,” he told reporters here.
Ignacio attended Almueda’s wake in Nagtipunan, Quirino, on Thursday.
On the same day, a van loaded with lumber was intercepted at a mobile checkpoint in Barangay Lagum in Peñablanca, Cagayan. Villamor Visaya Jr., with a report from Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon