Press Release
May 13, 2011

Legarda Denounces Killing of Forest Guard in Makiling,
Honors the Fallen Hero of the Forests

Senator Loren Legarda today condemned the killing of a hardworking, dedicated and humble forest guard in Mt. Makiling, stressing that it was an act of violence against humankind and Mother Earth.

Legarda said that the brutal death of Elpidio "Jojo" Malinao, a forest guard of Makiling Centre for Mountain Ecosystems of the College of Forestry & Natural Resources University of the Philippines Los Baños, is a tragic addition to the lengthening list of murdered warriors for the environment.

The Senator called on the authorities to bring the perpetrators of this dastardly act before the law and give justice to the wife and orphaned children.

"I join the colleagues of Jojo Malinao and all the advocates of environmental preservation in condemning this act of violence committed against an ordinary forest officer with extraordinary courage and who is guilty of nothing but the strong passion for his job to protect the Makiling Forest Reserve at all cost," she said.

Malinao was shot to death by a lone gunman at Bay, Laguna last May 9 shortly after attending a court hearing on a case against forest law offenders within the Makiling Forest Reserve.

"I have been witness to the dedication and intensity of purpose, the burning passion to do something bold and concrete for the environment of our environmental workers in the UP Los Baños, particularly of the Makiling Center. When I hiked the forests of Mt. Makiling in 2008, I have seen how our foresters design, implement and create their own successful environmental programs. It is alarming that the life of Jojo Malinao was sacrificed in the performance of his duty to protect the mountain," she added.

Legarda, a staunch environmentalist, said that Malinao deserves to be honored for his commitment to give nothing but his very best in his job which he embraced with unquestionable and undeterred dedication. As a result he is responsible for apprehending the most number of forest law offenders in Makiling Forests which is one reason why the Makiling Forests remain lush and green to this day.

"Forest protection and forest law enforcement in the country is almost a mission impossible considering the daunting limitations that impede on the ground actions and undermine the morale of forest law officers. The death of Jojo reminds us to honor the fallen hero of the forests and recognize those whose lives are on the line for their routine act for the environment," she stressed.

Legarda is set to file a Senate Resolution to honor Malinao.

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