DENR exec gunned down in Palawan
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—Police are facing a blank wall on the murder of the acting Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer of Narra town in Palawan province.
Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and investigators on Tuesday said they had yet to establish any motive in the ambush that killed Fernando Alejo on Monday afternoon.
Police, quoting witnesses, said two suspects on a motorcycle attacked Alejo, who was driving another motorcycle, at the Narra town center at 5 p.m. Monday. Alejo was shot at close range by one of the gunmen.
Natividad Bernardino, DENR regional director in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), suspected that Alejo’s murder might not be work-related but she declined to provide details on what prompted the attack pending the results of the investigation.
“There are angles that the motive may be personal. But let us wait for the police findings,” Bernardino said.
She admitted, however, that DENR personnel were exposed to what she described as “work-related threats.”
“They face threats, especially if they come in contact with big [landlords] and big business interests,” she said.
Narra is a mining town some 60 kilometers south of this provincial capital. It hosts, among others, two large-scale nickel mining projects.
Several environment officers had been murdered in different provinces in recent years, with police noting that the attacks were work-related.
In July 2013, forest ranger Jessie Comendador was shot dead by unidentified men believed to be part of illegal logging syndicates in Kalayaan, Laguna province.
On Jan. 1, 2013, environment officer Alfredo Almueda, was killed by armed men as he manned a logging checkpoint in Maddela, Quirino province.
In February 2012, Melania Dirain, who was the second highest ranking environment officer in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan, was shot and killed by a lone gunman in her office. —WITH A REPORT FROM INQUIRER RESEARCH
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