DENR taps Army brigade to save remaining forests in Central Luzon

By Zorayda Tecson  

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has partnered with the Philippine Army’s (PA) 703rd Infantry Brigade (703rd IBde) to save the remaining forests in Central Luzon.

DENR Central Luzon Executive Director Paquito Moreno said forest and wildlife protection is one of their most challenging tasks and have been their focus for decades.

In an official media post, Moreno said “DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu’s marching order to us is to prevent the cutting of trees in our forests, protected areas and watersheds.”

He said protecting the region’s over 900,000 hectares of forestland is a big challenge to them on account of their limited human resources, with only about 150 forest rangers patrolling and monitoring the area.

He said their partnership with the Army is thus a welcome development which significantly boosts their efforts to end forest destruction in the region.

“Collaboration with other agencies and stakeholders of the environment is vital in our campaign to end illegal logging, and the Philippine Army has been our steady partner in our anti-illegal logging campaign,” he added.

Under the partnership agreement, the Armt’s 703rd 1Bde  will provide intelligence support, assist in the monitoring of illegal forest activities and help in the enforcement of forestry and other environmental laws.

Brig. Gen. Andrew Costelo, 703rd IBde commander, said with or without the memorandum of partnership, the PA is committed and required to undertake environmental protection activities as their contribution to mother earth.

“We assure the DENR that the 703rd IBde, 7ID (7th Infantry Division) of the PA is one with you against illegal logging and in the implementation of any environmental activities,” he said.

Earlier, the DENR likewise partnered with the Philippine National Police to protect the forest plantations in Tarlac. The agreement included 10 local PNP units and the 2nd Provincial Mobile Force Company in the protection of forest plantations established under the National Greening Program (NGP).

Since 2011, DENR-Central Luzon has established more than 122,000 hectares of forest plantations within degraded watersheds and forestlands in the region. (PNA)