The Commission on Human Rights supported on Friday the urgent passage of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau bill.
It also maintained its backing for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a better enforcement of environmental laws as a positive step in protecting the human rights of all Filipinos.
The National Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee-Subcommittee on Environment and Natural Resources and other government agencies passed Joint Resolution No. 02 of 2021.
The joint resolution emphasized that despite numerous laws mandating the DENR to perform environmental protection and enforcement, the DENR does not have its own dedicated bureau to enforce environmental and natural resources laws that it is assigned with, resulting in weak implementation of these laws.
“As such, CHR stresses that strengthening institutions to empower environmental rule of law is central to achieving sustainable development. There is a need to integrate environmental needs with the essential elements of the rule of law, and provide the basis for improving environmental governance,” spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.
“CHR likewise supports capacitating environment law enforcers; improving legal and policy mechanisms to better combat illegal transnational environmental activities; and addressing violations of environmental laws, among others, as embodied in the EPEB bill,” she added.
She said in the same vein, CHR underscores that one of the most pressing concerns when we speak of environmental problems is the increasing number of fallen environmental rights defenders and law enforcers whose lives, liberties, and security were curtailed in the line of duty. “This has been evident in the report that declared the Philippines as the deadliest country for land and environmental defenders,” she noted.
“We hope for the administration’s expedient certification of the proposed bill as urgent. This is to also ensure that guarantees and protection will be accorded to environmental frontliners against any attacks, harassments, and retaliation from violators and criminals; and that the legislation will genuinely contribute in mitigating the environmental degradation and biodiversity loss in the Philippines,” she said.
CHR underscored the constitutionally recognized right of every Filipino to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature, while underscoring the State’s primary obligation to realise this right while facilitating justice for the victims of environmental and human rights violations.