The Environment department is optimistic about the passage of a bill creating its enforcement bureau, an official said Monday.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the Senate now had its own version of the bill, raising hopes that the legislation could become a law soon.
By having a permanent enforcement bureau, the DENR would be more effective in stopping environmental crimes, such as illegal logging and the smuggling of wildlife species, he said.
On Oct. 12, Senator Nancy Binay filed a counterpart bill creating an environmental protection and enforcement bureau.
“We extend our gratitude to Senator Binay for advancing the EPEB bill in the Senate, thus increasing the chances of the draft law making it into legislation,” Cimatu said.
He again thanked Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, who, on June 15, filed House Bill 6973 establishing the EPEB under the DENR.
The measure is now pending in the House committees on government reorganization and on natural resources.
Since last year, Cimatu has been urging the creation of an enforcement arm within the DENR following the successive killings of environment workers, mostly foresters, while performing their duties of protecting the environment.
He admitted the agency still lacked teeth in enforcing the country’s environmental laws, while many DENR frontline workers remained at risk.
Cimatu appealed to the Senate and Congress to act “swiftly and decisively” on the two separate EPEB bills now pending in both chambers of Congress.