DENR personnel escorts in Boracay ordered not to carry high-powered arms
BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered security detail accompanying Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) personnel on the island not to carry high-powered firearms.
“I gave instructions already that escorts will have no long arms,” Cimatu, a former chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, told the INQUIRER here on Thursday.
Cimatu said soldiers who were seen carrying high-powered rifles with DENR personnel serving notices and orders to alleged violators of environmental laws were “newly assigned” to the area.
He said the DENR personnel will be escorted by policemen wearing the tourist police office uniform consisting of short pants, shirt and bull cap with a side arm.
Several resort owners and residents on the island earlier raised concern over the heavily armed soldiers and policemen with DENR personnel going to residences and commercial establishments identified as alleged violators of the environmental regulations.
A hotel operator earlier told the INQUIRER that a family of foreigners were alarmed over the sight of the heavily armed men which prompted them to check out from the hotel and cut short their stay on the island.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) in Western Visayas has said that the policemen and soldiers were merely escorting the DENR personnel upon the request of the agency.
“It’s just a preventive measure because we all know that the land occupation and ownership is a sensitive issue in Boracay,” said Supt. Gilbert Gorero, PNP Western Visayas spokesperson.
Gorero said some property owners have security guards and the presence of armed policemen and soldiers is necessary to ensure the safety and security of DENR personnel. /je