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Loren pushes creation of regulatory body for environmental planning

January 5, 2010

SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA PUSHED TODAY FOR THE CREATION OF A GOVERNMENT AGENCY THAT WOULD LICENSE AND REGULATE THE PROFESSIONAL PRACTICE OF ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING IN THE COUNTRY, INCLUDING THOSE OF FOREIGN PLANNERS WHO ARE CONTRACTED FOR WORK IN THE PHILIPPINES.
Loren stressed that environmental planning in the establishment of communities and in the construction of public and private structures like buildings, roads and houses has taken an added importance in view of the deleterious effects of climate change already being felt worldwide.
“Typhoons Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi opened the eyes of people on their relations with the environment – that while we must minimize our activities that harm the environment, we must also adapt to the world we live, minimizing the risks posed on us by natural calamities,” said Loren.
“People are now aware how some communities had been built on fault lines, on veritable water basins that go underwater during heavy rains, on paths traversed by floods,” she added.
The senator said she envisions the creation by legislation of a Professional Regulatory Board of Environmental Planning, which will also be tasked to ensure the continuing education of environmental planners.
She said foreign environmental planners may be allowed to work in the Philippines, but on the condition that their own countries must also be open to hiring Filipino environmental planners.
A vice presidential candidate in this year’s elections, Loren said that it is good that environmental planning is now being taken into account in the establishment of residential and business communities so they can be integrated into the environment.
She explained that communities and human structures should be complementary with nature, in that communities must not degrade the environment while people must be relocated away from geographically hazardous areas like near volcanoes, fault lines, water basins and mountainsides.
Loren said that Presidential Decree 1308, the law that regulates the profession of environmental planning, has already been overtaken by time and does not apply to foreign environmental planners who come in and out of the country.
“We know little of whether those foreign planners are qualified, thus the need for a body that would strictly regulate the profession,” said the chair of the Senate Climate Change Committee.
Loren is also the United Nations Disaster-Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation champion for the Asia-Pacific Region, in which capacity she asked governments and fellow legislators to unite for the environment during the recent Copenhagen Climate Change Summit.
“Right now, the liability of foreign environmental planners is limited only to their clients, even if their haphazard work has far-reaching consequences to the environment and to the people,” added Loren.
She pointed out that with people becoming more environmentally conscious, the scope of work of environmental planners will be broadened to include adapting to climate change, socio-economic concerns, public administration and the needs of the marginalized sectors.
“Environmental planning must also include subdivision planning, environmental investigation, disaster prevention, mitigation and response,” said Loren.