Timber poachers blamed for burning of forest ranger’s house in Surigao Sur

DAVAO CITY –The burning of a house owned by a forest ranger in Lianga, Surigao del Sur was allegedly work-related, officials said.

Eric Herzon Gallego, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spokesperson in Caraga region, said that Patrick Angelia lost his house on Thursday after alleged timber poachers burned it.

“We believe that the burning of the house of forest ranger Patrick Angelia is work related as the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Lianga is intensifying its anti-illegal logging drive in the area,” Gallego said in a phone interview on Sunday.

Angelia is a regular forest ranger at CENRO Lianga.

Gallego said that four masked men burned the house of Angelia. The forest ranger and the rest of his family members, including his aging parents, were able to escape unharmed.

DENR-Caraga regional director Charlie Fabre and CENRO Lianga Hernan Ramirez both condemned the incident.

“The timber poachers, it seems, are trying to get even with the DENR for confiscating their stolen logs,” Fabre said.

Fabre said this is not the first time that DENR employees take the toll of intensified anti-logging operations in the area.

A decade ago, an irate timber poacher also shot and killed a forest ranger of CENRO Lianga while he on his way home,he recalled.

“The killing was associated with relentless anti-illegal logging operation where the slain government worker figured in several raids of saw mill plants,” Fabre stressed.

Fabre reported that from February to April this year, DENR-Caraga was able to apprehend and confiscate about 6,000 logs in different areas, the bulk of them in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur.

CENRO Ramirez expressed sadness over the burning of Angelia’s house and also relief that no one among the family was hurt.

“The relentless drive of the DENR on anti-illegal logging may have drawn the ire of timber poachers in the area, who burned Angelia’s house,” Ramirez said.

Gallego said that DENR regional officials headed by Fabre already visited Angelia and his family and assured them of the agency’s assistance.

He added that DENR workers in Caraga are also now raising funds and collecting clothes to support Angelia and his family.

“Right now, Angelia and his family, about nine of them, are staying at the house of their relative in Lianga,” Gallego said. Alexander Lopez/PNA-northboundasia.com