HomeNews AlertGreen activists decry attack on Philippine forest rangers

Green activists decry attack on Philippine forest rangers

The Interior department confirmed that there were “illegal cutting of trees" and “illegal constructions” in the area

Environmental activists called on the government to investigate the reported attack on two forest rangers in the Masungi Georeserve in Rizal Province, east of the Philippine capital, Manila.

Forest rangers Melvin Akmad and Kukan Maas were reportedly wounded after an unidentified gunman shot at them at about 9 p.m. on July 24.

Akmad was shot to the head while Maas was wounded on the neck. The forest rangers were stationed in the village of Pinugay in Baras town.

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment described the attack as “brazen” because it happened near a police station.

Leon Dulce, national coordinator of the network, urged authorities to conduct a probe into the “clear failure of security.”

He said private businesses that have “illegally encroached into the watershed” must also be investigated.

In a Facebook post, the administration of the Masungi Georeserve said that it has received “various threats, intimidations, and harassments from disgruntled violators.”

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“We are devastated and enraged by this heinous act of violence and attempted murder against forest defenders,” read the post.

The reserve appealed for “justice and protection for our team who risk their lives to defend our watersheds and forests 24/7.”

On July 14, the Department of the Interior and Local Government recommended the “filing of criminal and administrative charges against concerned government officials and private entities for their continued violation of environmental laws” in the protected area.

The Masungi Georeserve is a 3,000-hectare protected area and is part of the Marikina watershed, where the 26,000 hectare Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape is located.

The Interior department confirmed that there were “illegal cutting of trees and slash and burn activities” and “illegal constructions” in the area.

Dulce said private businesses within the protected area “have clear motives” behind the attacks.

The Philippines remains the deadliest country in Asia and the second in the world for land and environmental defenders since 2017, according to a Global Witness report.

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