Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is calling for the swift passage of a measure that will create an Enforcement Bureau within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) following the death of a forest ranger in Nueva Ecija who was shot several times by an unidentifed gunman.

Cimatu condemned in the strongest terms the killing of Forest Ranger Ronaldo Corpuz, who was assigned at the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in the municipality of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

Reports reaching the DENR central office in Quezon City said Corpuz was shot multiple times by the gunman as he was closing the gate of their house at around 7:35 pm on October 25.

Corpuz was then brought to the Premier Hospital in Cabanatuan City for treatment. He died two days later.

“These senseless attacks against forest defenders must come to an end,” the environment chief said, as he called on the police to go after Corpuz’s killer.

Corpuz was the third environmental worker killed this year.

Gaudencio Arana, a long-time DENR informant also assigned at CENRO Muñoz, was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assailants on September 11.

On September 4, suspected illegal loggers stabbed DENR Forest Ranger Bienvenido Veguilla Jr. in El Nido, Palawan. Five of the six suspects have already been arrested and were charged for murder and violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.

Cimatu said the killings of these forest defenders call for the immediate passage of a measure creating the DENR Enforcement Bureau.

“The proposed bureau will primarily benefit our foresters who are exposed to various risks and dangers when they perform their tasks on the field.”

“The proposed bureau will primarily benefit our foresters who are exposed to various risks and dangers when they perform their tasks on the field,” he pointed out.

Last October 24, Cimatu designated Undersecretary Jim O. Sampulna to head the newly-created Office of the Undersecretary for Enforcement and Special Project.

Prior to his death, Corpuz—together with members of Bantay Gubat—conducted a surveillance operation against timber poaching and illegal transport of forest products in Barangay Portal in Rizal town on October 22.

The team seized 26 pieces of Yemane lumber, locally known as Gmelina, with a volume of 742 board feet from three individuals, who were charged with violation of Section 77 of PD 705.

“I will do everything in my power to protect DENR workers from fearless, cunning and greedy individuals who destroy the environment for their own selfish interests.”

Cimatu had earlier vowed to do everything in his power to protect DENR workers from “fearless, cunning and greedy” individuals who destroy the environment for their own selfish interests.

Appearing at a budget hearing in the House of Representatives, he asked lawmakers to pass a law that would create an Enforcement Bureau in order for the agency to effectively stop environmental crimes, such as illegal logging and smuggling of wildlife species.

Cimatu also asked Congress to come up with a legislation authorizing forest rangers to carry guns to protect themselves against illegal logging syndicates and other criminals.

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