DENR creates interim unit for environmental laws
Personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources inspect the dolomite beach sand along Manila Bay yesterday.
Edd Gumban

DENR creates interim unit for environmental laws

Elizabeth Marcelo (The Philippine Star) - June 21, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has created an interim office as part of efforts to intensify the enforcement of environmental laws.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has signed an administrative order, creating the Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS).

The DENR said ELEPS would act as an interim unit while the agency is waiting for Congress to approve a proposed bill seeking the creation of an Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB).

“The department has many laws to implement, but we are lacking when it comes to enforcement. While we are waiting for the passage of the EPEB bill, Secretary Cimatu ordered the creation of ELEPs to protect our forests and other natural resources,” Jonas Leones, DENR undersecretary for policy, planning and international affairs, said.

Under the administrative order, ELEPS will cover the enforcement of environmental laws as enumerated in the Supreme Court rules of procedure for environmental cases such as terrestrial laws, coastal, marine and aquatic resources laws as well as aerial law.

The DENR said ELEPS would encompass the department’s existing enforcement units, such as the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force, Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife and other enforcement task forces.

The DENR’s bureaus and attached agencies will also maintain close coordination with ELEPS in networking with national and international organizations that address environmental crimes.

“ELEPS has end-to-end duties, from the enforcement, stoppage of violations, arrests, management of confiscated items, investigation, preparation for prosecution of environmental criminals until execution of decisions by the court,” the DENR said.

ELEPS is also tasked to coordinate with the Department of Justice, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Bureau of Investigation and government-owned and controlled corporations to aid in the fight against environmental crimes.

Cimatu said the creation of ELEPS also aims to empower and protect the DENR’s law enforcers.

“We have a growing number of fallen environmental heroes. This is how serious we do our jobs here in the DENR. I hope that no more lives will be lost because of defending our environment,” Cimatu said.

Under the administrative order, ELEPS enforcers will be equipped with agency-issued firearms and protective equipment. They will also undergo capacity building training to effectively perform their duties.

“Through ELEPS, enforcement officers will be able to conduct intelligence operations, issue notices of appearance for investigation, as well as implement cease and desist orders, closure orders, notices of violation and DENR enforcement directives for in flagrante violations, among others,” the DENR said.

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