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Legarda Pushes For The Passage Of The Environment Protection And Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) Bill

June 22, 2020

Deputy Speaker and Antique Representative Loren Legarda filed House Bill No. 6973 which seeks to create the Environment Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to strengthen the agency’s capacity to address violations against current environmental laws and regulations.

“The EPEB will increase the DENR’s environmental law enforcement capacity by professionalizing and institutionalizing law enforcement within the Department and concurrently with other agencies having environmental law enforcement duties. The bill calls for the full capacitation of DENR enforcers through an enforcement academy similar to that of the Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) or the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), where agents can learn skills and techniques normally taught to mainstream law enforcement agencies,” Legarda said.

Legarda also underscored the fact that aside from illegal wildlife trade, “equally serious environmental threats such as water pollution, pollution caused by solid waste, hospital and hazardous wastes, as well as infraction of protected area laws, rules and regulations” also need to be addressed.

Recent news reports about the Puerto Princesa City police chief who allegedly took seven (7) personnel and three (3) ‘bantay dagat’ of the DENR to a vacant lot and beat up one of them have caused a stir. The DENR team was reportedly on their way to inspect a mangrove area that was reported as being logged.

“This scenario and many other instances of poaching, polluting, illegal wildlife trading is what we hope to eliminate through the passage of the EPEB Bill. We have seen the urgent need for a separate enforcement unit within the DENR to match the growing threats to the environment and biodiversity. Once enacted into law, HB 6973 will allow the DENR to target syndicates responsible for wildlife and timber trafficking, or individuals who thwart the DENR’s intent and resolve to effectively carry out their mandate and to successfully implement current environmental laws and regulations,” Legarda added.

During her three terms as Senator, Legarda authored and sponsored several laws on environment protection and climate change including: the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), the Clean Air Act (RA 8749), the Climate Change Act (RA 9729), Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act (RA 10121), the People’s Survival Fund Law (RA 10174), Amending the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998 (RA 10654), Environmental Education Awareness Act (RA 9512), Green Jobs Act (RA 10771), and the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act (RA 11038).***