Illegal loggers, wildlife poachers and other environmental violators should be held fully accountable for their acts, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urged on Tuesday, June 22.
“CHR emphasizes that much is at stake if we will continue to disregard the environment and let violators… go scot-free,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said in a statement.
“An adequate, healthy environment is a necessary condition to make all other human rights possible, including rights to life, food, health, and adequate standards of living,” she said.
Thus, De Guia said the CHR is supporting the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as it pushes for better enforcement of environmental laws.
She said that there have been a number of laws passed in the country to protect its rich ecosystems. But, she lamented, these laws are not fully enforced.
She pointed out that several House and Senate bills have been filed for the creation of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) in the DENR, which seeks to consolidate DENR’s mandate to enforce environmental laws through a single office.
While these bills are still being deliberated, she said, a DENR administrative order has been inked to create an interim office — the Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS) — to serve this purpose.
“The CHR sees the push of the DENR to better enforce environmental laws as a positive step to protect the human rights of all Filipinos,” she said.
“With the creation of interim ELEPS in DENR, as well as the anticipation of a more permanent EPEB, CHR looks forward to DENR’s stronger commitment to protect human rights through better enforcement of environmental laws and better rationalization of environmental programs, especially as the country faces the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she also said.
While the government has an obligation to uphold everyone’s right to live in an environment conducive for their health and wellbeing, every person and corporation also have a responsibility to protect the environment for future generations, she stressed.