Another environmental worker killed
MANILA, Philippines — An employee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was shot dead in Surigao del Sur province last week, the fourth state environmental worker murdered in just a span of about three months.
Reports reaching the DENR’s headquarters in Quezon City said that the victim, special land investigator Joash Peregrino, was shot on Thursday inside his car, as it was parked in front of a store near the DENR office in Bislig City.
His wife, also a DENR employee, had stopped by the store on their way home.
Peregrino was assigned to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) in that city. Cenro has been active in apprehending loggers and retrieving logs abandoned in government lands.
Felix Alicer, DENR executive director for Caraga, said Peregrino had just been appointed special land investigator.
“The killing of our colleague … may also have something to do with the strengthened efforts of our personnel at the field offices led by our Cenro officers on antitimber poaching and smuggling,” Alicer said in a statement.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu condemned the killing and called on law enforcement officials to bring Peregrino’s killers to justice.
Cimatu said the number of environmental workers killed on his watch was “disturbing, if not outright enraging.”
He said further there would be no letup in his agency’s campaign against violators, and urged Congress to pass legislation that would create an enforcement bureau for the DENR.
Series of killings
Peregrino’s murder is the latest in a series of killings targeting environmental workers.
Early in September, forest ranger Bienvinido Veguilla Jr. was hacked to death by illegal loggers after he and his team had seized their chainsaw in El Nido town, Palawan province.
Just a week later, Gaudencio Arana, a longtime DENR informant, was shot dead in Nueva Ecija province by motorcycle-riding men.
And in October, forest ranger Ronaldo Corpuz was shot dead inside his house in Nueva Ecija.
The Philippines has been ranked the deadliest country for land and environmental defenders by the international group Global Witness in 2018.
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