The enforcement of environmental laws in Cagayan Valley has gained force with the creation of the Regional Environmental Law Enforcement Council (RELEC).
The council is established through a memorandum of agreement signed on Oct. 19 at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Office in Tuguegarao City by the regional heads of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Philippine National Police (PNP), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Department of Justice, National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine Information Agency (PIA). The religious sector was represented by the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao.
According to DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn C. Bambalan, the RELEC is the expanded version of the Regional Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force and the Regional Multisectoral Forest Protection Committee with additional members from the law enforcement agencies, the media and the religious sector.
“The creation of the council will amplify our cross-sectoral approach in the enforcement of forestry laws to now include those pertaining to wildlife, mineral, coastal and marine resources and other environmental laws,” Director Bambalan said. She emphasized that the presence of law enforcers in the forest area in the region which is considered as key biodiversity area can serve as a deterrent against illegal environmental activities. “The participation of the media and the religious sectors will intensify the information and communication campaign to gain public support and consequently to change the behavior of the people,” she added.
During the MOA signing, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement Daniel Darius M. Nicer underscored the importance of data and situation analysis on law enforcement. “We have to know the problem in order to address the problem. Determine the problem and strategize on how to solve the problem,” he challenged.
Atty. Nicer thanked the partners for responding to the call of the DENR top management as he discussed the proposed creation of the Enforcement Bureau to strengthen and elevate the DENR’s enforcement mandate.
As provided in the MOA, the council members declared their cooperation in the provision of fast response to verified reports of environmental violations within the region; and improvement of environmental law enforcement, ranging from deterrence, investigation, arrest, search and prosecution, to enforcement of judgements against illegal natural resource extraction and degradation and for the protection of environmental quality.
The RELEC members also agreed in the promotion of cross-agency coordination of responsibilities, jurisdiction and capabilities towards ensuring the imposition of penalties of any ordered cessation or demolition.
The DENR will be conducting an orientation on environmental laws for the key staff of the RELEC members to establish common understanding on the roles and actions to be undertaken.
The MOA was signed by Director Bambalan, DILG Regional Director Jonathan Paul M. Leusen Jr., PNP Regional Director Crizaldo O. Nieves, NBI Regional Director Gelacio D. Bongngat, Deputy Regional Prosecutor Rodolfo M. Banatao Jr., MGEN Laurence E. Mina of the AFP, Deputy Commander Laurence L. Tamayo of the PCG, Angely L. Mercado of the PIA, and Rev Fr. Dennis Ordillos. DENR Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Marcos G. Dacanay and Enforcement Division Chief Joel S. Daquioag witnessed the MOA signing.#