Senators back creation of task force to enforce environmental laws

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2018 04:22 PM

Senators prepare for a hearing on environmental problems hounding tourist island Boracay on Friday, March 2, 2018. Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - At least 3 senators on Friday backed the creation of a task force to oversee the implementation of environmental laws.

This after Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu lamented difficulties in enforcing the country's environmental measures due to lack of personnel.

"That is really one of the problems of the DENR, the enforcement capability. I was even proposing a bureau of the DENR for enforcement purposes," Cimatu told lawmakers during an inquiry into environmental problems hounding Boracay island.

Senators Loren Legarda, Cynthia Villar, and Juan Miguel Zubiri backed Cimatu's suggestion for the creation of a body to police abuses against the country's natural resources.

Zubiri suggested that Cimatu coordinate with Department of the Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año for the assignment of personnel who may be deputized by the DENR to enforce environmental laws. 

"Dapat matitino ang ilalagay natin diyan dahil malaki ang environmental degradation," Zubiri said.

Villar said such a body should be mobile in order to cover the whole country.

Legarda, meanwhile, noted that Philippine environmental laws are already "so strong" and that what the country needs is stronger political will in enforcing these measures.

She called upon Cimatu and Año, both former military chiefs, to create a task force that would address environmental concerns.

"Mag-create kayo ng task force environment, huwag nang Boracay lang, save Philippines... Create the task force at lahat naman ng mga pamahalaan matatakot magpasuspinde sa DILG," she said.

Several of the country's environmental concerns recently made headlines after President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to shut down Boracay island, calling it a "cesspool" because of its sewage problems.