Kasakalikasan lawyer bats for renewed campaign on forest protection
by Ben Moses Ebreo
Tuguegarao City (23 March) -- With 10 persons already killed while doing their role as enforcers of forest laws, an environment lawyer here has expressed optimism over the need on the strengthening of forest protection efforts in the region based on reality assessments of personnel in the field doing forest protection activities.
"We still have a long way to go with regard to our actions in protecting our environment," stressed lawyer Asis Perez, chair of the Tanggol Kalikasan movement.
He made the statement during the Regional Summit on Forest Management and Protection Monday(March 22) at the Crown Hotel Pavillon in barangay Ugac here.
Speaking before members of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and media practitioners, Perez said protecting the environment entails a lot of transformational efforts by the government from policy changes to law enforcement measures.
Perez also admitted that while laws are useless if not enforced, there is a need to amend existing policies and infusion of new trainings among concerned agencies to transform multi-sectoral efforts into an effective and efficient government program intervention focused on environmental protection in the country.
The regional forest management and protection summit was also attended by RDC chair Bishop Ramon Villena of the diocese of Bayombong and Quirino, Bishop Diosdado Talamayan of Cagayan, Presidential Adviser on climate change Heherson Alvarez, DENR Secretary Horacio Ramos and Cagayan Valley Regional Director Benjamin Tumaliuan.
According to Perez, recommendations came out from law enforcers during the recent 1st national environment summit based from their assessments on their performance in the local level.
These problems which hampered the success of forest protection efforts are: lack of coordination, lack of trained manpower, policy gaps, strong political intervention, need for improved public educational compliance, inadequate legal support, low prioritization among concerned agencies, local government unit roles not fully harnessed and some enforcers are in cahoots with violators.
Perez said that with these pressing problems, there is a need for a facelifting of forest protection efforts to give teeth to its mandate.
He said a creation of a multi-sectoral task forces in the countryside must be organized, coupled with the creation of a training center for law enforcers inorder to come up with a standard training scheme with the members of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources(DENR), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Philippine National Police, Philippine Army and the Philippine Coast Guard among others.
Perez also stressed the need for the introduction of an insurance scheme among enforcers of forest laws specially volunteers in various communities. (PIA NVizcaya) [top]