Forest rangers seek guns to fight illegal loggers
LUCENA CITY—Saying the job of protecting the Sierra Madre mountain ranges is getting riskier, an environment official reiterated an appeal for government forest rangers to be allowed to carry firearms in the fight against illegal loggers.
“The job is getting risky. Our enemies are getting bold and violent,” said Milliarete Panaligan, community environment and natural resources officer (Cenro) based in Real town, Quezon province.
“Allow us to carry firearms for protection. We have to defend ourselves,” said Panaligan.
Panaligan, who has been receiving death threats, is overseeing the latest government crackdown on logging in the Sierra Madre.
After a week of operation, government forest rangers and a team of policemen and Philippine Navy personnel recovered more than 3,000 illegally cut logs abandoned in General Nakar town. Among the hardwood species found are red and white lauan and yakal.
To stress the gravity of the situation, she said illegal loggers, “like drug pushers… should also be killed once they resist arrest and fight back.”
The DENR’s task to protect Sierra Madre, which stretches from Quezon to Cagayan province, is too risky and forest rangers are “vulnerable” for lack of firearms, Panaligan said.
The northern Quezon section of the Sierra Madre is considered a hot spot for illegal logging operations.
Alfredo Palencia, provincial environment and natural resources officer in Quezon, said at least 289 cubic meters (122,500 board feet) of illegally cut flitches and lumber were seized by the DENR in different towns in the province from January to September. —DELFIN T. MALLARI JR.
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