Puerto Princesa police chief relieved from post, faces probe on alleged maltreatment of DENR personnel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 13) — Puerto Princesa's top cop has been ordered on administrative leave following allegations that he was involved in the maltreatment of several personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Archie Gamboa ordered the relief of Pcol. Marion Balonglong.

“The allegations against Balonglong are serious and his relief is an administrative action to preclude any possibility of undue influence in the ongoing investigation,” said Gamboa in a statement released by the PNP.

Balonglong reportedly arrested and held at gunpoint eight employees of the DENR and two others, who were doing their field work at a coastal village at Barangay Iwahig in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on June 10.

According to reports, the DENR personnel were conducting an investigation on the illegal occupation and massive mangrove cutting at Sitio Bucana when they were intercepted by Balonglong and his men.

Balonglong allegedly kicked and punched at gunpoint one of the forest rangers identified as Roldan Alvarez.

On Friday, The DENR denounced the reported illegal arrest and police brutality endured by a team of environmental law enforcers at the hands of Puerto Princesa City police on Wednesday.

PBGen Nicerio Obaob gave his assurance that the allegations against Balonglong would be thoroughly investigated.

In a separate statement, the DENR Lawyers Guild, Inc. said they strongly condemn the acts committed against the environment officials.

"It is unfortunate that the PNP is supposed to be the DENR's partner in enforcing environmental laws, and not its adversary or protector of violators of environmental laws. What is more distressing is that this incident happened on June 10, the DENR's 33rd anniversary," the statement said.

The group said it was fully behind the DENR MIMAROPA Region and City Environment and Natural Resources Office to file cases against Balonglong and others involved in the incident.