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Illegal loggers have financiers

CABANATUAN CITY—The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said at least 20 people are bankrolling illegal logging operations in Nueva Ecija. Leovino Ignacio, provincial environment and natural resources officer, said the financiers backstop cutting and hauling in the mountains and buying in the lowlands. “There are at least 20,” he told Manila Standard, citing six hot spots in Bongabon, Carranglan, Gabaldon, Gen. Tinio, Laur and Pantabangan. Ignacio said the group pay the allowance of workers at P15,000 each for at least a month. The cutters bring their provisions and spend their time at the logging site away from their families. Ignacio said the financiers are connected to syndicates believed to have planned two failed attacks on forest ranger Edgardo de Luna last June and May. He said De Luna has been transferred to Cagayan Valley under heavy security on the order of DENR Secretary Ramon Paje and on the recommendation of DENR regional executive director Maximo Dichoso. De Luna, 49, of Barangay Bantug Bulalo, was shot at his nape by an unidentified man on a motorcycle on June 14. He was riding a motorcycle on the way home when ambushed at Purok Camalig, Barangay Bangad. On May 23, De Luna was shot by an unidentified man while he was on board a passenger jeepney in Barangay Bitas also in this city. Ignacio said the forest ranger was leading the department’s anti-illegal drive which drastically restricted output of upland cutting. “This is a big syndicate,” he said, adding that lives of other rangers are under constant threat as well.
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