Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu reiterated his appeal to Congress to pass legislation creating an Enforcement Bureau within the DENR to give it stronger enforcement powers with full authority to police illegal loggers and other environmental violators.
He explained that with its own Enforcement Bureau, the DENR could effectively enforce environmental laws and protect its workers who have been the vicious targets of illegal loggers and other environmental criminals.
Sec. Cimatu started to make the appeal to Congress, two months ago, a few days after the death of forest ranger Bienvenido “Toto” Veguilla Jr., assigned in El Nido Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area (ENTMRPA) of the DENR in El Nido town. Veguilla while patrolling in El Nido, Palawan on September 4, 2019, was hacked to death by suspected illegal loggers when he and his team confiscated a chainsaw used in illegal logging activities.
The DENR—through Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones said that the creation of an Enforcement Bureau within the DENR is in line with the Duterte administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, particularly peace and order, as it would enable the department to “fully implement and enforce laws on environment and natural resources (ENR) with full authority to police illegal loggers and ENR violators.”
Following the recent killing of some DENR employees in the line of performing their duties to protect the environment, Secretary Cimatu said there will be no let-up in their intensified drive against environmental offenders and in fulfilling its mandate to protect and preserve the country’s environment and natural resources.
“Though our intensified actions against violators of environmental laws are taking a toll on our people, we will not relent,” Cimatu said in a statement.
Secretary Cimatu expressed outrage over the killing of yet another employee of the DENR in the line of duty on November 21, 2019.
Joash Peregrino, a special investigator at the DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Bislig City, Surigao del Sur, was gunned down in his car parked in front of a store near the DENR office. He and his wife, also a DENR employee, stopped by the store on their way home.
Peregrino is the third DENR worker killed in the line of duty in a span of two months.
Last September 2019, Veguilla was killed in El Nido, Palawan. A few days after Veguilla’s death or on September 11, Gaudencio Arana, a long-time DENR informant at CENRO Munoz in Nueva Ecija was killed by motorcycle-riding men.