MANILA — The Eastern Mindanao Command on Tuesday said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) contractors, abducted last May 30 and released June 2 afternoon, are now undergoing stress debriefing at the agency’s regional office in Davao City.
“They are now at the DENR Regional Office for stress debriefing,” Capt. Alberto Caber, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesperson, said.
He added that victims along with their drivers were released with the help of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Caber said that the DENR contractors were released in Barangay Panangan-Sangab, Maco town, Compostela Valley.
Released were Kendrick Wong, Nico Lasaca, Chris Favila, Tim Sabino and driver Jonas Loredo.
DENR Regional director Joselin Marcus Fragada earlier apologized to the local authorities of Maco, Compostela Valley for non-coordination with the local government unit prior to the conduct of the aerial survey in Barangay New Leyte.
Fragada said the activity of the survey inspectors from Manila-based Sky Eye UAV, which was commissioned by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources (PENRO), was not also coordinated with the DENR XI, thus he only knew that the surveyors were in the area when he was informed of the abduction last Friday.
He also clarified the surveyors are independent contractors and not part of the DENR. These are young graduates from the Ateneo de Manila who ventured into such business.
Fragada stated that the group was commissioned mainly for aerial survey to validate the National Greening Program (NGP) tree plantation implemented by the government three years ago.
The NGP is one of the flagship programs of the national government to have 1.5 million hectares planted to trees. In the region, a total of 33,000 hectares were already planted with different tree species, including cacao, coffee and Falcata.
Under the NGP program, the DENR is required to produce geo-tag photos from the ground. And they also need to match these photos with an aerial/satellite surveillance to make sure that tree plantations really exist and to check survival rates of the tree seedlings.
He said the use of drones is one way to get an aerial surveillance.
Fragada pointed out there was no malicious intent in the use of drones. He, however admitted there were lapses in the area of coordination that even DENR XI has no knowledge of the group’s presence in the area.