DUMAGUETE CITY, Nov. 19 (PNA) -– Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) chief Charlie Fabre on Thursday expressed gratitude to the quick response of the Regional Public Safety Battalion – 7 (RPSB-7) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to a call for assistance at the DENR station in Mabinay, Negros Oriental on Wednesday.
Fabre disclosed that on Tuesday, a day ahead of the bloody shootout between police and civilians in Barangay Bulwang, Mabinay, the DENR there had received threats via text messaging, one of which said “dili mo abtan ug December” (you won’t make it to December).
The sender of the threat was unknown, but the DENR station chief in Mabinay, Dionesia Trongcoso, was advised to have it recorded in the police blotter, said Fabre.
Fabre said it was not clear who had sent the text messages but he believes it could be from someone who was previously arrested for illegal cutting of trees in the reforestation area in Mabinay.
On Wednesday morning, a group of men arrived at the DENR compound in Barangay Bulwang, Mabinay, to retrieve a chainsaw that was previously confiscated by the DENR, Fabre disclosed.
The chainsaw, which was seized by forest protection guards last November 5 following an illegal cutting activity at Cantumbol, Bais City, was registered in the name of Ricky Sohot, said Fabre. Cantumbol forms part of the vast Mabinay Reforestation Project, Fabre explained.
Sohot was among the three arrested following Wednesday’s encounter in Mabinay. In that incident, five people were killed, namely, Feliciano “Fely” Candido, holding the position of Security Agent 1, and Cedric Regino, Anghel Torres and Renato Torres, all job order employees of Bais City, and Grasing Embalsado.
Others in the group of about 11 men, which later turned out to be comprised by some members of the Bais City Civil Security Office, included Sohot, Rolando Candido who was wounded in the exchange of gunfire, Junjun Gutib and Richard Royo.
Based on reports reaching his office, Fabre said it appears that this was the third time that the group had visited the DENR office in Mabinay this month to negotiate for the release of the chainsaw.
And on every occasion, Trongcoso had declined saying it was only the DENR regional director that had the authority to allow it, Fabre said.
Fabre expressed concern had it not been for the RPSB’s fast action, the DENR personnel at the Bulwang station would have been in grave danger with their lives at greater risk in the presence of the armed men that figured in the shootout with the police.
The PENRO chief stressed that they are merely doing their jobs, among other things, to protect the forests of Mabinay, appealing to the public to cooperate and follow legal procedures, such as in the release of the confiscated chainsaw. (PNA)