LA CASTELLANA - Employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and colleagues of slain forest ranger Mat Sarcino yesterday expressed alarm over the continuing death threats they receive from suspects engaged in poaching activities at the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park.
Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, Val Oliveros, and MKNP Park Superintendent Cecil Canada yesterday sought protection from Col. Oscar Lactao, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, and Senior Supt. Milko Lirazan, provincial police director of Negros Occidental, during the Joint Peace Security Coordinating Center meeting, presided over by Mayor Alberto Nicor.
Oliveros said they have been getting threats even after the fatal shooting of Sarcino on Oct. 29 at the MKNP administration compound in La Castellana.
Canada said he believes the killing of Sarcino was work-related. Sarcino died on Nov. 2, four days after he was shot.
Senior Inspector Gary Alan Resuma, La Castellana police chief, yesterday told DENR officials that a Community Police Assistance Center has already been established in the Cabagna-an area, which is located at the foot of Mt. Kanlaon, to allay the fears of those actively involved in the forest protection campaign.
Before the shooting incident, two truckloads of charcoal allegedly owned by a policeman assigned in Negros Oriental, were intercepted by the police in La Castellana and in Bacolod City.
Lactao and Lt. Col. Wilfredo Isaac, 11th Infantry Battalion commander, said DENR may utilize the available Army forces deployed in Brgy-Biak-Na-Bato, La Castellana and Brgy. Masulog in Canlaon City, in their forest protection campaign, and to address their security concerns.
Lirazan also said they will do their best to solve the killing of Sarcino, and stressed that he will not allow another Canlusong problems involving illegal charcoal making that have already claimed the lives of several persons.
DENR records show that two barangay kagawads in Brgy. Canlusong, EB Magalona, who are actively involved in the forest protection program, and a member of the Bantay Bukid Brigade in Victorias City, have been killed since 2010, and the incidents are job-related.
Oliveros said they will not be cowed by the threats. “ We will not pull out from the area, as we have a mandate to do”, he added.
But Canada said that if the killing of Sarcino is not solved “Our environmental protection program will suffer”.
He added that even witnesses have been warned not to cooperate with the police.
Cañada said MKNP had been very active in their campaign against illegal activities inside the park, particularly in the hot spot areas in Barangay Codcod, San Carlos City; Barangay Minoyan, Murcia, and Barangays Sag-ang, Mansalanao, Cabagna-an, Biak na Bato and Masulog, all in La Castellana town, before the killing of Sarcino. *GPB