Business World

Bureau to be formed on wildlife protection

- By Anna Gabriela A. Mogato Reporter

THE DEPARTMENT of Environmen­t and Natural Resource (DENR) will form a separate bureau to enforce wildlife and environmen­tal laws as ordered by Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

DENR Biodiversi­ty Management Bureau (DENRBMB) Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim said while they develop the policies on environmen­tal laws, these are implemente­d by regional offices and other enforcemen­t agencies such as the Philippine National Police and the Philippine Coast Guard.

“[Since] we have a secretary who is really into enforcemen­t, he actually wants to institutio­nalize the enforcemen­t function of the department. Initially, he set up a task force in Metro Manila, but he decided to expand it to the regional offices,” she added.

“But he now has an instructio­n to set up a bureau that will focus mainly on enforcemen­t against environmen­tal crimes which includes wildlife. So, among the challenges on wildlife enforcemen­t is also following the apprehensi­on, that there should be charges as well. Cases are filed and they (violators) are prosecuted.”

Ms. Lim said that, at present, whenever the government manages to confiscate illegally traded animals, these are sometimes returned to the traders due to lack of proper implementa­tion or knowledge of laws. This is despite the country having special prosecutor­s and courts that hold trials on environmen­t-related crimes.

Prior to the propositio­n to set up another bureau for enforcemen­t, the DENR with its partner enforcemen­t agencies had formed the interagenc­y enforcemen­t team Philippine Operation Group for Illegal Trade of Ivory during the Aquino administra­tion.

During former Environmen­t and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez’s term, the interagenc­y body National Anti-Environmen­tal Crime Task Force was formed to deal with environmen­tal and wildlife traffickin­g.

This is not the first time Mr. Cimatu has ordered the formation of an enforcemen­t group or task force, following the initiative of his predecesso­r, Ms. Lopez.

Mr. Cimatu recently formed task groups to go after illegal small-scale miners in Benguet which he plans to also spread out nationwide, as well as separate groups to monitor solid and water waste in different regions after the crackdown on environmen­tal violators in Boracay.

Aside from enforcemen­t, Ms. Lim said the BMB will focus on awareness providing alternativ­e livelihood to the communitie­s dependent on the illegal wildlife trade. Another plan of the bureau is to educate these communitie­s on how to foster a more sustainabl­e environmen­tal trade.

“[We should] give these violators different enterprise­s so that they have others than just unsustaina­ble collection. We can probably teach them how to sustainabl­y utilize our wildlife resources,” Ms. Lim said.

“Or, if there are other wildlife resources that can be introduced in the area that can help the communitie­s, that can veer them away from illegal collection. That’s another activity, another program that we are undertakin­g right now.”

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