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FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Palayan City, Nueva Ecija - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has forged an agreement with government security agencies to step up the campaign against illegal logging activities within the region here on Saturday.
Rafael Otic, provincial Environment and Natural Resources officer of Nueva Ecija, said a memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed with the Philippine Army's 7th Infantry Division (7ID) and the Philippine National Police -Central Luzon in ceremonies held at the Officers' Clubhouse here.
Otic said the MOA empowers the army and the police to conduct anti-illegal logging operations without first asking clearance from the DENR.
The parties also has the power to monitor the activities of Task Force Sagip Likas Yaman, a multi- agency group created against illegal logging, "in order to asses the effectiveness of this MOA and to recommend to the heads of agencies appropriate and timely actions" to make it more responsive to current situation and conditions.
The MOA was signed by Maximo Dichoso, executive director of DENR Central Luzon and Brig. Gen. Alan Luga, commander of 7ID.
It was witnessed by Sofio Quintana, DENR regional technical director; Benjamin Mina, PENRO-Aurora, Amado Villanueva, PENRO-Bataan, Rapael Otic, PENRO-Nueva Ecija; Leovino Ignacio, PENRO-Pampanga; Atty. Alcide, PENRO- Tarlac and Nelson Castro, PENRO-Zambales.
Witnesses from the military include Brig. Gen. Arnolfo Atendido, assistant division commander; Col. Gregorio Catapang, 703rd Infantry Brigade commander; Col. Vic Castro, 702nd Brigade Commander; Col. Elias Escarcha, Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence; Col. Cesar de Mesa, Assistant Chief of Staff for Operations; Lt. Col. Eugene Mata, Assistant Chief of Staff for civil military operations; Col. Hilario Vicente Lagnada, 56th IB commander; Lt. Col. Michael Samson, 24IB commander; Lt. Col. Kurt Decapia, 48IB commander; Lt. Col. Desiderio Alaba, 81IB commander and Col. Nick Alarcio, commander of REPEWC.
"The move that we have undertaken in Region 3 is part of the proactive and reactive measures of the military as a cooperating agency to the DENR in the implementation of the program," Luga said as he added that both parties "have come together for common goals; to protect and conserve the natural resources within the region and resolve issues on violations committed against existing natural resources law."
The signed MOA has established a partnership "that will legalize what has been gray and vague," Luga said.