BUTUAN CITY (PNA) – The suspects in the killing of a forester of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Agusan del Sur have been identified after one of them surrendered on Thursday, an official said.

rufano - Suspects in brutal slay of Agusan del Sur forest ranger identified
Marianito G. Rufano, the forester of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Bunawan, Agusan del Sur who was slain on Oct. 28, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Herzon Gallego/ PNA/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 13 (Caraga) Information Officer Herzon Gallego disclosed on Friday that suspect Sonny Yagong yielded to the Army’s 25th Infantry Battalion, and named Wilson Yagong, Tirso Yagong, and Jenefer O. Sudijana as the other suspects in the killing of Marianito G. Rufano.

Rufano and his co-workers were in Barangay Bunawan Brook in Bunawan town on Wednesday afternoon to retrieve illegally cut logs when he was slain.

“The suspect also handed over upon his surrender the murder weapon, and identified the other suspects,” Gallego said.

He said Rufano confronted a group of men whom he suspected of being timber poachers, but was attacked by the latter instead.

“The DENR-Caraga will file criminal charges today (Friday) against the suspects,” Gallego said.

Aside from murder, DENR-13 will also file charges for violations of Presidential Decree 705, or the Revised Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, for stealing forest products inside a forestland owned by the government, he added.

Gallego said Rufano and his team managed to seize some 6,000 board feet of illegal lumber of the lauan and “toog” species.

DENR-13 Executive Director Hadja Didaw D. Piang-Brahim condemned the killing of Rufano and ordered DENR-13 personnel to take extra precautions while performing their duties in protecting the forest in the area.

Meanwhile, Gallego bared that the officer in charge of CENRO-Bunawan and its personnel who took part in the retrieval operation with Rufano have received death threats.

The threats, he said, were sent through calls and text messages coming from unknown senders.

“They are not taking any chances now but continue to report to the office to perform their duties,” Gallego said. 

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