DENR seeks additional P3 billion in 2020 budget for 3 crucial programs

Published September 28, 2019, 10:59 AM

by Dr. Eduardo Gonzales

By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is seeking an additional P3-billion budget to bankroll three crucial programs it will be implementing in 2020.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MANILA BULLETIN)
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MANILA BULLETIN)

“We are hopeful the budget augmentation will be included in the final version of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to be passed by Congress—the House of Representatives and the Senate—and signed into law by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said.

The proposed funding increase includes P1.2 billion for the Enforcement Bureau, P1.8 billion for the full implementation of the Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018, and P36 million for land titling.

Cimatu pointed out that with its own Enforcement Bureau, DENR could effectively enforce environmental laws and protect its workers who have been vicious targets of illegal loggers and other environmental criminals.

DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones cited the need for “full logistic support” for the implementation of E-NIPAS law and acceleration of public land distribution.

“Still, under the 10-point agenda of the President, to be specific, is to ‘ensure security of land tenure’ to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in land management and titling,” Leones pointed out.

The E-NIPAS law expands NIPAS Act of 1992 to cover broader range of protected areas (PAs) safeguarded under the law. The new law adds 94 more legislated PAs in the country, and bolsters the security of previously declared PAs.

The law allows DENR to strengthen the management of PAs, which are widely considered essential for biodiversity conservation. PAs are frequently home to irreplaceable and threatened species.

Last September 20, the House approved on third and final reading the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, including the P25.5 billion allocation for the DENR, which will be 16 percent higher than the P21.96 billion it received this year.

The Senate had already started its own review of the government’s spending plan for next year and is expected to come up with its own version of the GAB.

“We are hoping that the DENR would get the same extent of support from the senators just like their counterparts in the House when they meet at the bicameral conference committee,” Cimatu said.