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Implementation of Existing Environmental and IP Laws Must be Given Priority – Loren

September 17, 2011

TAGUM CITY – “WE MUST IMPLEMENT OUR LAWS EFFECTIVELY.”
This was the reaction of Senator Loren Legarda when asked by the local media as to what laws the Senator need to push in order to protect the environment and promote the welfare of the Indigenous Peoples (IPs).
This was also what Senator Legarda stressed that the government needs to do, noting that there are already a number of laws with implementation challenges.
“My focus is on funding the laws that I authored and monitor the implementation of the government,” Legarda, who convened the Mindanao Indigenous People’s Assembly, said in a press conference.
Legarda cited as examples the Ecological Solid Waste Management law, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and the environmental safeguards and community benefits contained in the Mining Act.
As to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Law, Legarda said one of the problems of the LGUs is they don’t have the budget for engineered sanitary landfills, which should have long replaced open and controlled dumpsites.
As to the Clean Air Act, Legarda said one of its important provisions is the anti-smoke belching of vehicles. “As we all know, strict compliance with smoke emission standards is lacking,” the Senator said.
As to the Philippine Mining Act, “it is very clear that before any mining exploration activities, there should be consultation with the sectors, especially the indigenous peoples.”
“Second, the host communities should significantly benefit from the resources the mining exploration and other economic activities produce,” Legarda said.
Citing figures from the NCIP that there are over a hundred mining operations and exploration and twenty hydro-power plants in ancestral domains, “we need to see a more equitable distribution of the wealth of nature, to be given to our indigenous peoples who are the host communities of these economic undertakings,” she added.
“The DENR, NCIP and LGUs should jointly monitor if IPs receive substantial share from these activities,” Legarda said.
But Senator Legarda clarified that she was also pushing for the passage of new laws, like the People’s Survival Fund, which have recently passed the Senate on third and final reading.
“The People’s Survival Fund will ensure that funds are available to carry out adaptation projects within the context of local, community-based realities. Once operationalized, this fund should be tapped by the indigenous cultural communities in building your resilience against the impact of climate change,” Legarda said.