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MANILA, Philippines - President Benigno S. Aquino III has earmarked P5 million to be given to the newly-established Endowment Fund in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) which aims to provide ready assistance to the families and dependents of employees killed while in the performance of their duties.
In his speech during the 25th anniversary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the Heroes Hall of Malacanang Palace on Tuesday, President Aquino underscored the need to extend assistance to DENR employees who died in the line of duty in connection with the government’s anti-illegal logging campaign through the newly-formed “Environmental Heroes Foundation”.
“Iyong foundation na itinayo ninyo – Environmental Heroes Foundation – kailangan naman po talagang kalingain natin, kaya inaatasan ko na rin po si Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa na kumuha sa Presidential Social Fund ng five million (pesos) na idagdag,” the President said.
The Chief Executive said he will instruct the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to create a task force which will focus on penalizing not only the culprits but also the big personalities behind their unlawful activities.
Bloody trail since campaign
DENR records show that since the start of the massive campaign against illegal logging, eight DENR employees have already given up their lives for the protection of the environment while six have been hurt in various incidents of ambush.
The most dramatic murder was that of Forest Specialist 2 Melania Dirain, aged 46, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) in the area.
Adorable Caligan, alias Boyet, a resident of Pata West, Claveria, Cagayan, is now in jail awaiting trial for murder charges, after a CCTV camera installed in the local DENR office captured in chilling detail the cold-blooded killing of the CENRO, who had a reputation for honesty, as Secretary Paje described her.
Dirain was shot dead on the evening of February 7 as she sat at her desk processing permits at the DENR office in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan. See CCTV footage of the murder below:
Aquino's vow: we won't stop till we get them
“Siyempre, lahat ho tayo matutuwa kung ‘di na madadagdagan ang kailangang tulungan nitong pondong ‘to. Pabubuuin ko rin po, sa tulong ng joint na task force po ng PNP at saka ng NBI, na manigurado hindi lang mahuli ang salarin na actual na nagpapatay, pero pati na rin ang mga nasa likod po nila at talagang ipa-follow up natin ang progreso ng mga kaso sa kanilang mahuhuli,” President Aquino noted.
On June 8, 2012, DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno led in launching the Endowment Fund at the DENR Central Office in Quezon City.
The launching ceremony was highlighted by the signing of the Articles of Incorporation of the Alay sa Anak ng Bayan (ALAB) ng Kalikasan Foundation, Inc.
ALAB is a non-stock, non-profit organization that will be responsible for the management of the endowment fund. Its Board of Trustees include Paje, Cardinal Gaudencio B. Rosales, GMA Network chairman and CEO lawyer Felipe L. Gozon, Civil Service Commission chairman Francisco Duque III and Puno, who is the chairman of the Board.
Based on its Articles of Incorporation, the ALAB ng Kalikasan Foundation shall have the primary purpose of promoting the welfare of the children, or in their absence, minor siblings and the parents 65 years old and above of officials and employees of the DENR who are killed or rendered permanently disabled as a result of, or in connection with their discharge of official functions relating to the lawful implementation and enforcement of environment and natural resources laws, rules and regulations, by providing financial assistance in the form of grants for education and/or in-kind related material support, and to promote the protection and development of said beneficiaries.