DENR regional office unaware of drone ops

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Friday, June 6, 2014


IT SEEMS that only the New People’s Army (NPA) was aware that drone operations were going on in Maco, Davao del Norte, outside of those in the national office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

This much can be gleaned from a press release from the DENR-Davao where it said, “DENR-XI Regional Executive Director Joselin Marcus E. Fragada admitted that he was only aware of the presence of SkyEye employees in the area after the news of their abduction broke out, which made him sought the assistance of Mayor Duterte immediately.”

Skyeye Inc. was contracted by the DENR to conduct aerial surveillance with the use of drones to verify and validate the National Greening Program (NGP) plantations of the region.

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“SkyEye is a Manila-based company. These are young entrepreneurs from Ateneo de Manila and this is their actual business. We sanctioned them to just look at our NGP plantations with the use of their technology just to make sure that our plantations for the last three years are in place. That’s the main purpose of this surveillance,” Fragada was quoted in the press release.

SkyEye visited an area in Kapalong, Davao del Norte last year to launch its drone technology in Davao Region. Its aerial surveillance in Barangay New Leyte, Maco was supposedly its second time survey in Davao, the press release said.

Five of its employees though, namely, Chrisandro Favela, Tim Sabino, Nico Lasaca, and their manager Ken Wong, of Sky Eye UAV Services, and Jonas Loredo, a driver from the Maria Avenue car rental services, were abducted by the NPA on May 30. They were released in Barangay New Leyte in Maco town around 2 p.m. of June 2.

[READ: Rebels free 4 DENR surveyors, driver]

When the five were presented to Mayor Rodrigo Duterte last June 2 at the Holcim Philippines Factory, where the mayor was attending another activity, the local chief executive rapped national agencies for not coordinating with local agencies when they come down for some activities.

"Itong DENR, alam niyo naman na ang mga NPA kalaban nila ang gobyerno, nagdala-dala pa kayo ng mga drones, takot sila diyan, ayaw nga nila pumasok ang mga Amerikano dito because they think that is part of their (US) surveillance. I hope next time, the national agencies will inform us in the local government before going up there," Duterte was quoted as saying.

But DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and Fragada expressed their gratitude to Mayor Duterte for negotiating for the release of the five.

“Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was the one responsible for the speedy release of these five abducted personnel of Skyeye Inc. Upon learning that these five men were missing, I took the initiative to seek the assistance of the Davao City Mayor’s Office to help us assure of their safety and their release,” Fragada said.

He said that he already extended his apologies to the Municipal Government of Maco for the lapses in terms of proper coordination.

Fragada emphasized that proper coordination with the Municipal Government, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines should be observed to prevent such cases from happening again.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 07, 2014.

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