Shot forester hailed as environment ‘hero’
In time for National Heroes’ Day, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has honored a forest patroller who remains hospitalized after being shot by a suspected illegal logger last week in Palawan.
In a statement on Monday, the DENR announced the awarding of the Medalya ng Bayani ng Kalikasan (Environmental Hero medal) to Joselito Eyala, a forester from the Puerto Princesa Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, who remains at Philippine General Hospital awaiting surgery to have the bullets removed from his palate and back.
No less than Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu conferred the award on Eyala, hailing the forest patroller for his “remarkable dedication to public service, bravery and leadership.”
Cimatu, a former military chief, also awarded Eyala with a Purple Heart, usually conferred on soldiers wounded in the line of duty.
Cimatu also ordered the immediate promotion of Eyala from Forester I to Forester II, which would automatically increase his pay grade.
“I want you to know that I thank you for what you did and that the DENR will not neglect you. We need people like you in public service,” Cimatu said in Filipino, adding that the DENR would shoulder all hospital expenses and render financial assistance for Eyala’s recovery.
A teary-eyed Eyala could only give a thumbs-up in response, the DENR said.
Eyala sustained two gunshot wounds after his team apprehended suspected timber poachers and confiscated an unregistered chainsaw from suspect Florante Saycon in Barangay Bacungan on the afternoon of Aug. 23.
DENR Mimaropa regional director Natividad Bernardino said the rest of Eyala’s team would also be given recognition.
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