COTABATO CITY – The Bangsamoro environment benefits from the involvement of BIAF combatants-turned-Palaw Rangers in forest protection activities, particularly in the apprehension of illegal forest products, as the number of confiscated illegal forest products in BARMM as of December 14, 2020 is at 2,000 board feet (bdft)—almost 90% lower than that of last year.

Since the assumption to office of Hon. Abdulraof A. Macacua as the Minister of Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy – BARMM last February 28, 2019, he has been ensuring a tightened implementation of environmental laws, rules and regulations within the Bangsamoro region.

Now the BARMM Executive Secretary and concurrent MENRE Minister, Macacua aims to empower further the implementation of such regulations with the added participation of the soon-to-be-decommissioned MILF-BIAF combatants, who are also the Palaw Rangers of the Bangsamoro.

“Malaki talaga ang tulong ng Palaw Rangers dito sa pagprotekta natin sa kalikasan ng Bangsamoro,” Minister Macacua said.

“Habang naghihintay tayo ng decommissioning, ang MILF-BIAF combatants na ito ay nagbibigay serbisyo sa BARMM bilang karagdagang ‘khalifa’ (steward) na patuloy na nangangalaga sa ating environment,” he emphasized.

Last year, 2019, a gargantuan 17,000 bdft of illegal forest products were seized. In 2018, an even bigger 19,000 bdft were apprehended.

Palaw Rangers, or the environmental vanguards, have widened their roles in environmental protection. Under the banner program of the Bangsamoro Government, the Integrated Bangsamoro Greening Program (IBGP), they conduct illegal logging surveillance and detection, apprehension of illegally transported forest products, fire suppression and management, and foot patrol in protected areas.

One of the major components of IBGP include the mobilization of the 600 contracted MILF-BIAF members who have not undergone the decommissioning process yet. Apart from illegal forest products apprehension, the Palaw Rangers also participate in numerous tree-growing activities. They conduct regular foot patrol activities that monitor the forestlands of the BARMM and the threats to it, aiming for eventual consistent decline of illegal activities in the region’s protected areas.