THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas will train 120 forest guards combat illegal logging in the region.
DENR Assistant Regional Director Carlito Tuballa said on Tuesday, October 10, that forest rangers will be trained starting November on self defense, security protocol, forest law enforcement, monitoring, and investigation.
The 120 forest guards are assigned in 11 Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices in the region. They have been deployed in areas with armed illegal loggers and communist rebels.
The DENR-Eastern Visayas is eyeing the possibility of arming its forest rangers.
Since forest guards are unarmed, they are assisted by military and policemen not only to monitor large-scale logging, but timber poaching committed by informal settlers near the forest.
“We are taking action to protect our forest guards against those armed illegal loggers operating in our forest areas,” Tuballa said.
In Marabut, Samar alone, the DENR regional office is aiming to preserve the 15,430-hectare forest areas as eco-tourism destination and not for logging.
The DENR also hired lawyers this October to strengthen its legal muscle and speed up the resolution of lower level cases, including land claims and disputes. It will also help forest guards prepare legal documents and after post-operation reports.
Eastern Visayas has a total land area of 2,143,169 hectares, of which 1,118,214 hectares are established as forestland and 1,024,955 hectares are alienable and disposable lands.
Per 2011 Philippine Forestry Statistics, the region has a total forest cover of 519,848 hectares or only half of the established forestland. (PNA)