Wednesday, October 21, 2009

7 environment workers reported missing in Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / October 21, 2009) – The Philippine military said it was verifying reports Wednesday that seven environment workers went missing in the hinterlands of Mindanao.

The seven are employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources who were manning a checkpoint in Butuan City in Agusan del Norte province.

“We have contacted two army battalions in the area to check on the reports, but so far we have not received anything about those reported missing in Butuan,” Major Michelle Anayron, a regional army spokesman, told the Mindanao Examiner.

The area is a known lair of illegal loggers and a stronghold of communist New People’s Army insurgents, but it was unknown whether the seven men were abducted or not.

Television reports identified those missing as Emiliano Gatillo Jr., Gabriel Arlan, Rito Espinido, Teofredo Pujadas, Efren Sabuero and two others identified only as Clar and Abogatal.

The unabated illegal logging in Agusan del Norte continues and is threatening water shed areas in the province.

Last year, some 500 leaders of indigenous tribes and representatives of nongovernmental organizations and the Catholic Church appealed to Manila to put an end to illegal logging and destructive mining in the province and other areas in the Caraga region considered as ancestral domain. (Mindanao Examiner)

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