Monday, October 17, 2011

Trillanes to boost environmental laws against violators

MANILA, October 18, 2011-Senator Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV sought to boost the environmental protection campaign through the creation of the National Environmental Protection Agency (NEPA) which is the primary task of the proposed agency shall be to monitor, to enforce and to ensure compliance with environmental laws under Senate Bill No. 168.

Trillanes wants a corps of implementers that would ensure strict compliance to environmental laws, as well as prosecute and punish violators under the bill.  
Trillanes explained that we are experiencing widespread environmental degradation due to years of neglect, haphazard policy-making and weak local environmental management, something needs to be done, lest we suffer the ill-consequences of our long-time neglect which would be further aggravated by climate change like what is now happening in Bulacan.

Trillanes said that while the state is bound by its commitment to protect the environment, existing laws relating to environmental protection are somewhat inadequate in terms of implementation and enforcement. 

The bill will create a NEPA board that will craft policies on enforcement of environmental laws.

Under the measure, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will serve as Chairman and the Secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ) as the Vice Chairman. Others members are representatives from the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Bureau of Customs (BOC), the Maritime Industry Authority (MIA) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).

Other key tasks and responsibilities of the NEPA Board are as follows: Formulate and implement an integrated approach to the enforcement of environmental laws; undertake the enforcement of environmental laws and investigate violators; arrest and apprehend as well as search violators and seize or confiscate the effects of the violations. For this purpose, prosecutors and enforcement officers of the agency are authorized to possess firearms in accordance with existing laws. Likewise, enforcers are authorized to enter premises for the purpose of conducting investigations; monitor, in coordination with the BOC, the Philippine Port Authority, the MIA, DENR and other agencies; prepare for the prosecution and cause the filing of appropriate criminal and civil charges against the violators. For this purpose, the agency shall coordinate with the DOJ; and recommend to the appropriate agency the forfeiture of properties and other assets belonging to the violators.

Trillanes said that these violators are not just transgressors of the law. Those who commit environmental crimes usually go unpunished. It is normally the people and the environment that greatly suffer from the dire consequences of their illicit acts. It is high time that we ran after these perpetrators and apply the full force of the law against them. (Jason de Asis)

15 top-ranking NIA execs relieved in massive revamp

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija, October 17, 2011-Fifteen top-ranking officials of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), including the deputy administrator, were relieved from their posts in a sweeping top-level revamp ordered by President Aquino.

The revamp affected three (3) officials from the NIA central office, eight (8) regional managers, one (1) operation manager and one (1) project manager.

NIA Administrator Antonio Nangel said that the reshuffle is meant to vigorously implement the rice self-sufficiency program (RSSR) and the food self-sufficiency program (FSSR) of the Aquino administration. He said the redistribution of subordinate NIA personnel is also intended to better achieve the mission, vision and predicate objectives of the NIA as spelled out by President Aquino and Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.

The overhaul was ordered by President Aquino after NIA accomplished only 25 percent of its target of 30,958 hectares while spending over 60 percent of its P14.88 billion budget.

Relieved in the NIA central office through Board of Directors Resolution 7708-11 were deputy administrator for engineering and operations Democratico Grana Jr., internal audit services department manager Robert Suguitan, operations department manager Gregorio Dumandan and Region 7 engineering and operations division manager Dexter Patrocinio.

Grana was designated as overall chief of the project inspectorate and advisory group. He was replaced by Suguitan whose post was taken over by Dumandan who in turn was succeeded by Patrocinio.

Also replaced were regional managers John Celeste (Region 1), Manuel Collado (Region 3), Efren Roqueza (Region 4-A), Modesto Membreve (Region 7), Alberto Lacuaren (Region 9), Julius Maquiling (Region 10), Felix Razo (Region 11) and Alejandro Aberca (Region 13); operation managers Mariano Dancel and Reynaldo Puno and project manager Reinerio Irinco.

Celeste was designated RSSP manager for northern Luzon and was replaced by Collado whose post was taken over by Puno. Puno’s post as operations manager of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems, the operator of the Pantabangan Dam, was taken over by division manager Josephine Salazar.

Roqueza was named RSSP area manager for Visayas and was replaced by Romeo Anonuevo. Membreve took the place of Aberca who replaced Lacuaren. Membreve was replaced by Diosdado Rosales. Maquiling swapped posts with Razo.

Dancel, operations manager of the Magat River Integrated Irrigation Systems, the second largest irrigation system, was reassigned as RSSP area manager for southern Luzon and was replaced by Helsy Bermudez, division manager of Region 1.

Irinco, project manager of the Help for Catubig Agricultural Advancement Project, was named RSSP staff under the Office of the Administrator, replaced by Amadeo Montejo.

Prior to the revamp, the President was dismayed that only 25 percent of the targeted 30,958 hectares was accomplished as of June 30, 2011. (Jason de Asis)

Senate on the way to approve 2012 budget

MANILA, October 17, 2011-Senator Franklin Drilon, chair of Senate Finance Committee has wrapped up committee deliberations on the individual budgets of national government agencies and now on-track in approving the proposed P1.816 trillion 2012 national budget.

Drilon said that the 2012’s proposed budget has been transmitted by the House of Representatives to the Senate on Wednesday and was referred to the Finance Committee.

We will diligently work for the passage of the budget so that by January 1, we will have an approved national budget for 2012,” Drilon said, adding that the panel will review the amendments incorporated by the House in the budget.

Drilon said that House Bill No. 5023 or the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2012, which was approved by the House Tuesday, will be sponsored in plenary when sessions resume on November 14.

He explained that on November 22, plenary debates would be completed which is also the date of the simultaneous approval on second and third reading in the Senate.

On November 23 to 28, a bicameral conference committee will be convened to reconcile disagreements between the Senate and the House versions of the budget.

Drilon assured that the passage of the government’s spending plan before lawmakers go on a holiday break on December 17.

The proposed outlay for next year is 10.4% higher from the current year’s outlay of P1.645 trillion. Next year’s budget represents 16.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), or the value of goods and services produced by an economy in a given period.

According to departmental allocations, the Department of Education has the highest with P238.8 billion budget, followed by Department of Public Works and Highways, P125.5 billion, Department of National Defense, P107.9 billion, Department of Interior and Local Government, P49.4 billion, and Department of Agriculture, P54 billion.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development will get P49.4 billion; Department of Health, P44.4 billion; Department of Transportation and Communications, P34.6 billion; Department of Agrarian Reform, P18.3 billion; and the Judiciary, P15.7 billion.

Prior to this, Congress managed to pass the 2011 General Appropriations Act before yearend, the first time the government functioned on an operational budget in the last decade last year. (Jason de Asis)


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