Thursday, August 22, 2013
MANILA-Senator Loren Legarda today said that she will push through with the conduct of an environmental audit to determine the state of implementation and enforcement of the country’s environmental laws and policies.
Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, will file a Senate Resolution to conduct an environmental audit covering the performance of relevant national agencies and local government units in relation to their enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and compliance guidelines in light of the continued ecosystems decline and environmental degradation.
“Ecosystems decline and environmental degradation pose serious threats to our lives, and aggravate disasters that occur due to natural hazards. Thus, we intend to improve existing laws where weakness is determined and to ensure enforcement in ways that people and institutions will comply not so much because there is a law that penalizes non-compliance but because they understand that they have a personal stake in the enforcement of these measures,” she said.
Legarda noted that heavy rainfall has brought about destructive flooding in many parts of the country, believed to be due mainly to the low compliance rate with the Solid Waste Management Act. A recent government report shows that only nine out of the 16 cities in Metro Manila have submitted complete solid waste management plans and at the national level, only 414 local government units, corresponding to only 25.71 percent of the 1,610 cities and municipalities nationwide.
Legarda pointed out that despite numerous laws we adopted, the state of the Philippine environment continues to be on the decline as the Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that forest area in the country has declined from 12 million hectares in 1960 to only about 5.7 million hectares, and the UNEP World Atlas of Coral Reefs reports that 97% of reefs in the Philippines are under threat.
“The continued decline of the state of the environment and its ecology system is one of the greatest threats to our people’s well-being. We must strengthen pollution control, engage citizens to participate in the implementation of our laws, and promote environmental education as part of the sustainable development strategies of the country,” Legarda said.
“This environmental audit that I wish to pursue aims to identify areas of environmental policy reform, institute metrics to ensure accountability, and promote the efficient use of public funds in the implementation of our environmental laws,” she added.
Among the country’s environmental laws are the Marine Pollution Control Law, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System, Renewable Energy Act, Environmental Awareness and Education Act, Climate Change Act, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, and the Act Creating the People’s Survival Fund.