(L-R) Vice admiral Rene Medina of Western Command, DENR regional executive director Henry Adornado, and representatives from Community ENROs in the province during the ceremonial turn-over ceremony of the firearms for the environment officers.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is arming environment enforcers to help eliminate “environmental crimes”.

DENR regional executive director Henry Adornado on Tuesday said they have started providing gun handling and basic self-defense training to departmental front lines to curb the increasing incidences of forest ranger killings.

“Since last year, there were several forest rangers [from all over the] country who were slain by poachers and illegal loggers. As the head of the department, it is my duty to protect my people as they perform their duty,” Adornado said.

Adornado also said that the Palawan government is committed to the department’s bid to arm its personnel in the province by donating 150 shotguns.

“Itong training ay paghahanda sa ipinangako ni Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu. Last July, there was an agreement between the provincial government and Sec. Cimatu. ‘Yong donated 150 units of shotgun na gagamitin during the training ay ‘yon din mismo ang ibibigay sa ating mga rangers,” he said.

Eloisa Veguilla, wife of slain forest ranger Bienvinido “Toto” Veguilla, who was also present during the event said that she is hopeful of the actions being taken by the DENR, pointing out that justice is being served as her deceased husband’s case progress.

“Hindi mawala sa isip ko kung nabigyan agad sila ng armas, baka hindi ‘yon nangyari sa kanya. Mahirap pa rin kalimutan. Mahirap pa din tanggapin,” Mrs. Veguilla said.

More than 125 representatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) from the regional office, Brooke’s Point, Puerto Princesa City, Quezon, Roxas, Taytay, Coron, and Provincial ENRO were present for the 5-day training that started December 3 and is expected to conclude on December 7.

Environmental officers will undergo rigorous gun handling and basic self-defense for three days, followed by a 2-day practical assessment in gun firing to be held in Magarwak in Barangay Sta. Lourdes.