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DENR, PNP ink pact to beef up environmental law enforcement

February 23, 2009 11:54pm
MANILA, Philippines - Government efforts to protect natural resources received a much-needed boost Monday with a team-up between the Environment Department and Philippine National Police.

Environment Secretary Jose Atienza Jr. and PNP deputy chief for administration Deputy Director General Geary Barias signed a memorandum of agreement deputizing PNP officers as special environment and natural resources officers.

The MOA was signed on the 18th founding anniversary of the PNP Maritime Group at Camp Crame in Quezon City, according to an article on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) website.

"With the support of the DENR, the PNP through the Maritime Group will be more effective in encouraging the involvement of the people in environmental conservation to provide a safe and better future for our children," PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa, who Barias represented at the signing, said in an article on the PNP website.

Senior Superintendent Freddie Panen, acting director of the PNP Maritime Group, said that as part of the PNP Integrated Transformation Program, the Maritime Police Force has initiated projects to aid in environmental protection.

These projects include delivery of police gunboats, training with Special Boat Unit of Indonesia, underwater police operations course, the establishment of police boat hyards in Cebu, Palawan, General Santos City; and the acquisition of additional firepower and equipment to safeguard the environment.

For his part, Atienza said the agreement was very timely as the DENR pursues a more vigorous campaign against environmental law violations.

Atienza earlier declared 2009 as a law enforcement year.

"The signing of the MOA here at Camp Crame, where I was once a political prisoner, marks another milestone in my own personal experience as a freedom fighter and defender of life. This time I am here joining hands with you in the defense and protection of our environment and natural resources," Atienza said.

Under the MOA, the DENR will deputize active PNP officers and personnel as environment and natural resources officers as provided for under DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2008-22.

It will also increase the law enforcement capability of the PNP regarding environment and natural resources such as forest resources, coastal and marine, mineral resources, wildlife and cultural properties laws, rules and regulations.

"Now we can really protect our natural wealth, particularly marine resources, from dynamite and cyanide fishing and all other forms of illegal activities, including the construction of fishpens and fishcages without permit, destroying the quality of the water bodies.
This time we can curtail these activities with our maritime group around and I am 100 percent sure that we can protect our water bodies," Atienza said.

Atienza said the DENR needs police support in the department's law enforcement activities, particularly in its stepped-up campaign to protect the country's water bodies from illegal fish pens, fish cages and other aqua structures that choke the water bodies nationwide.

He called on the police force to wage a war on the most urgent and most important battle of their lives, which is poverty.

"We must continue with our battle on a different front, the battle against poverty and hunger. We must do our duty correctly and do everything that is right with good and effective governance and good management, and together, we can never be wrong," he said. - GMANews.TV