‘Enough laws but short on implementation’ Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said the national government should immediately impose measures to address environmental abuse which has been blamed for the death and destruction caused by natural disasters.
“While we cannot stop nature, we can mitigate the effects through the simple act of fully implementing our environmental laws, particularly the Solid Waste Management Act, the Waste Water Act, and the Clean Water Act,” Escudero said.
The 39-year old lawmaker said the country has enough laws to address environmental preservation and management. The problem is in the implementation of these laws, he said.
“The Departments of the Interior and Local Government and Environmental and Natural Resources should make an inventory of the number of local government units who are compliant with these laws,” Escudero said.
“How many provincial, city and municipal environment and natural resources offices do we have right now? These are supposed to be frontline offices that will ensure that our environmental laws are enforced,” he added.
“Climate change has resulted in these severe weather disturbances like Ondoy. We should do our part in helping address climate change by making sure our LGUs and local communities are fully equipped with the right tools and policies,” Escudero explained.
“National government agencies should work more closely with LGUs in this regard,” he added.
The lawmaker said that aside from DILG and DENR, other government agencies should help in ensuring that the country’s environmental laws are complied with fully.
“Internal revenue allotments (IRA) to LGUs should be invested in fully implementing these laws. Fully funded and regularly staffed ENROs (environment and natural resources offices) are mandated by law. How many LGUs have complied and how many have not? DILG and DENR should make an inventory of this immediately,” Escudero said.
He said that sound environmental management practices and proper land management policies are crucial in easing the effects of natural disasters.
“Land management principles dictate certain practices that are non-negotiable. LGUs and government agencies, for instance, should make sure that settlements near potential hazard zones like riverbanks, forestlands and volcano slopes are immediately transferred and that no such settlements will be allowed,” Escudero said.
At the same time, Escudero said disaster management practices should be institutionalized in all LGUs regardless of location, size or the political affiliation of local executives.