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Bishop condemns killing of Palawan forest ranger

A CATHOLIC bishop condemned the killing of a government forest ranger who was trying to catch suspected illegal loggers in Palawan province.

Bishop Socrates Mesiona of Puerto Princesa Diocese said the ranger was only doing his job, adding that protecting the country’s environment had become risky and dangerous.

The prelate further expressed his grief saying the killing took place as the Church celebrated the “Season of Creation.”

“It is unfortunate that the attack on his life happened when we in the church are celebrating the month of creation,” Mesiona posted on the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines website.

Mesiona said the crime would not “go in vain but awaken our resolve to preserve the environment.”

The victim, Bienvenido Veguilla Jr., 44, worked for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as one of El Nido’s forest protectors.

On September 4, Veguilla was killed by a group of illegal loggers carrying bolos. Police identified the perpetrators as Filman Flores, Ruel Fulgencio, Carding Fulgencio, Welmer Juancho, Dexter Sumalague and one unidentified person, whom the forest ranger caught in the act of cutting trees in the protected area.

Veguilla was hacked by Flores, who was in turn was shot in the abdomen by the former. Flores, on Saturday died while getting treatment at the Palawan Northern District Hospital.

Police said the two Fulgencios, Juancho and Sumalangue were already arrested while one still remained at large.

Veguilla’s case was the latest attack against forest protectors.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu has called for the creation of an enforcement bureau that would protect the department’s frontline officers.


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