House Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez is pushing passage of a bill seeking to create an independent government agency that would be tasked to focus on programs protecting the environment.
Rodriguez, in filing House Bill No. 3794, or “An Act Creating the National Environmental Protection Agency of the Philippines” said there is a need to establish an independent ggency that exclusively deals with protecting, promoting and enhancing the environment.
The lawmaker said the proposed agency would be tasked to consolidate a variety of research, monitoring, standard-setting, and enforcement activities to ensure environmental protection.
Rodriguez took note of the mandate of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protect the environment and oversee the utilization of the country’s natural resources saying it is already caught in between conservation and utilization.
He added that a clash of interest between environmental protection and use of natural resources is unavoidable and this puts the DENR in an uneasy and difficult situation.
According to the Cagayan De Oro representative, the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) will be the primary government office responsible for the conservation and protection of the country’s environment.
Among its powers and functions is to establish and enforce environmental protection standards; conduct research on the adverse effects, methods and equipment for controlling of pollution; gathering of information on pollution; use gathered information in strengthening environmental protection programs and recommending policy changes; assisting others through grants, technical assistance and other means in arresting of environmental pollution.
The proposed NEPA will also be mandated to give advise to the President and Congress on the enactment of laws relative to the conservation of the country’s natural resources and environmental protection; formulate, implement and supervise the government policies, plans and programs; and undertake geological surveys of the country including its territorial waters.
It will also be mandated to establish policies and implement programs for the accelerated inventory, surveys and classification of lands, forest and mineral resources using appropriate technology; preservation of cultural and natural heritage through wildlife conservation and segregation of national parks and other protected areas; and maintenance of a wholesome natural environment by enforcing environmental protection laws.
Rodriguez said NEPA will also oversee, supervise, and police the country’s natural resources; promulgate rules and regulations for the control of water, air and land pollution; promote standards for water and air quality; declare policies, rules and regulations for the conservation of the country’s genetic resources, biological diversity and endangered habitat; formulate an integrated, multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary national conservation strategy; and exercise other powers and functions, and perform such other acts may be necessary. (Melvin Sarangay)