Suspected illegal loggers shot dead TF Pagbabago member in Bislig City
by Ben Serrano
January 15, 2011
BUTUAN CITY (PNA) -Suspected armed illegal loggers shot dead a Task Force Pagbabago member who was guarding confiscated logs in Bislig City in Surigao del Sur province on Thursday, DENR’s Task Force Pagbabago Commander Major General Renato P. Miranda said.
Miranda who is former Philippine Marines Commandant now heading the anti-illegal logging and illegal mining task force "Pagbabago" identified the victim as Forester Jacinto Branas, 56, married and resident of Bislig City.
Miranda said Branas was guarding confiscated logs in a village outside Bislig City when armed men suspected to be owners of the confiscated logs shot him with unknown caliber of firearm that caused his untimely death.
Miranda said at one time while they were in operation in Esperanza, Agusan del Sur unidentified snipers fired warning shots at the Task Force operatives.
“They wanted to scare us but my men are not scared of them. For my part it was already a passion, an advocacy to protect the environment. I am not afraid to die. What we only wanted is to stop cutting trees in the forest of Caraga that are now fastly denuded”,
Miranda claimed that at one occasion operators of tug boats towing along Agusan River confiscated illegally cut logs the Task Force seized were also fired upon, “luckily no one got hit” Miranda toldPNAin an interview.
Miranda said that since Tuesday, the Task Force already confiscated P60-M worth of illegally cut logs from different provinces of Caraga Region.
Environmental groups on the other hand urged the former Philippine Marines commandant to be carefully discerning saying what might be feed to him for confiscation were those owned by rival illegal loggers who might have a mole at Task Force due money consideration
They asked the anti-illegal logging and mining task force not to be selective in implementing the long arms of the law but implement it to all who violated environmental and forest laws.
President Aquino during his first official visit here in Butuan City yesterday claimed he is planning to issue a moratorium to all logging activities by issuing an Executive Order on Monday to six provinces namely Agusan del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Samar, Leyte, Surigao del Sur and Gingoog City in Misamis Oriental.
During briefing on the extent of damages of flash floods in Caraga Region at the Civil Aviation Office at Bancasi Airport here Friday, the Chief Executive even blamed local officials for doing nothing in the unabated illegal logging and illegal mining.
Aquino hinted that said illegalities which are destructive to environment because it did follow laws may have caused flash floods and landslides that killed 23 persons, damaged P300-M worth of public infrastructures
In 2008, Forester Audie Anchangco. a member of anti-illegal logging task force headed by then former Army General Roy Kiamko that confiscated P20-M worth of illegally cut logs along Agusan River was shot dead in front of his home in Paranaque City by still unidentified gunmen suspected to be hired assassins.
Anchangco was reportedly the record officer of the then task force who confiscated P20-M illegally cut logs floating in Agusan River(PNA/Ben Serrano)
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