Buyers of hot logs are in the neighborhood!

The  death of Barangay Captain Ruben Arzaga ( a close relative ) of Villa Libertad  has raised serious questions about  the government’s capacity to run after  illegal loggers who  violate forestry laws  with impunity  right in the very heart  of Palawan’s  tourism jewel- El Nido.

Two days before he died, Ruben and his team of Barangay Tanods successfully confiscated  thousands of board feet of illegally cut hardwood in a remote mountain of Villa  Libertad. When he returned the following day to conduct an inventory of their haul, illegal loggers – now turned murderers- waylaid and shot  him with an improvised gun. The lone policeman who escorted the team  was of no help that day – and reportedly froze for a second  before he could return fire.

The single bullet  that  fell  Ruben  reverberated and jolted  DENR  officials  into realizing that someone  died performing a task which should be theirs in the first place. Not even the presence of Sec. Roy Cimatu in El Nido, who gave Ruben the “Bayani  ng Kalikasan  Award “, could assuage  the community  of what is generally perceived as the department’s anemic  support to the fight of local governments against illegal  logging.

It’s about time   DENR and the military, particularly the Western Command, get its act together in this fight for the future  of our environment, And the local government unit  of El Nido, aside from its own environmental protection program,  could  review its building policy and adopt more stringent measures in issuing  construction permits.  The illegal cutting of trees is demand-driven. And in El Nido, with all kinds  buildings  sprouting  everywhere,  one need not  be a rocket scientist to know that the buyers of hot logs  are right their in the  neighborhood.

Sometimes,  it  takes more than courage and passion to implement our laws. A dose of  good  old common sense could   have prevented  a lamentable death.

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