THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the City of San Fernando, Pampanga forged Thursday, July 8, 2021, a Memorandum of Partnership (MOP) with the 703rd Infantry Brigade (IB), 7th Infantry Division (ID) of the Philippine Army (PA) to further boost the forest and wildlife protection and save the remaining forests in Central Luzon.
Paquito Moreno, executive director of the DENR regional office, said forest and wildlife protection is one of the challenging tasks of the DENR and has been the battlecry for many decades now.
“Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu’s marching order to us is to prevent the cutting of trees in our forests, protected areas and watersheds,” he explained, adding that the limited human resources with about 150 forest rangers patrolling and monitoring the region’s more than 900,000 hectares forestland pose a challenge to the DENR.
He said the partnership with the 703rd IB, 7ID of the PA is a welcome development in the government’s forest protection program and a big boost to end forest destruction in the region.
“Collaboration with other agencies and stakeholders of the environment is vital in our campaign to end illegal logging, and the Philippine Army has been our steady partner in our anti-illegal logging campaign,” he added.
Under the partnership agreement, the 703rd IB, 7ID of the PA will provide intelligence support, assist in the monitoring of illegal forest activities and enforcement of forestry and other environmental laws.
The DENR-Central Luzon will take the lead in the conduct of forest protection activities, conduct skill enhancement training on forest and environmental laws and deputize all units of the 703rd IB,7IB of the PA as forest protection officer.
For his part, Brigadier General Andrew Costelo, commander of 703rd IB, 7ID of the PA, said with or without the MOP, the PA is committed and required to undertake environmental protection activities as their contribution to mother earth.
“We assure the DENR that the 703rd IB, 7ID of the PA is one with you against illegal logging and in the implementation of any environmental activities,” he said, adding that the agreement formalizes the partnership in ensuring the protection of the environment.