ArchivesAugust 2010Abolish DENR: Oposa

Abolish DENR: Oposa

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DUMAGUETE CITY–Claiming that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is suffering from “Institutional Schizophrenia,” a noted environmental lawyer is calling for its abolition.{{more}}

Antonio Oposa, Jr., pioneer in the study of environmental law in the Philippines and considered one of Asia’s leading voices in the international arena of Environmental Law, Thursday said the DENR has to be abolished because it has two conflicting functions in one agency.

The DENR, he said, is continually in a dilemma over conservation and mining utilization. “Conservation has no money. Mining has money. So, in a debate, guess who wins?” Oposa, a 2009 Ramon Magasaysay Awardee, said.

Oposa was in Dumaguete for an assessment on the Protected Area Management Effectiveness at Silliman University, organized by the Dr. Jovito Salonga Center for Law and Development and the German Development Service.

Oposa said the DENR has a highly difficult task to fulfill the mandate in their laws. “Show me a mining company that has been closed down because of pollution without causing an uproar — none, because mining has money,” he said.

He said the plan to abolish the DENR and come up with two separate agencies each for conservation and mineral utilization, was conceived before the elections and he is pursuing this move with friends in congress. In its place, the plan is to put up the National Environmental Protection Agency as a separate office from the Department of Natural Resources which will deal with the utilization of the natural resources.

He said the concern over the protection of the Philippines’ natural resources is urgent because the Philippines has among the richest terrestrial ecosystems in the world. “Pound for pound, hectare for hectare, the Philippines is the richest land on Earth, but the budget for protected areas is only P70 million–only 70 percent of one percent of the national budget,” Oposa said.

The idea of fusing the offices of the Environment and Natural Resources was a good idea in the beginning, Oposa admitted, but in the end, “you cannot have a person who is thrifty and at the same time is an addicted gambler. You have, in the department, people who are thrifty for conservation, yet you have the thrust of the same department where people who are gambling irreparably and irreversibly on the natural wealth of the country. You cannot have that. You will have Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde,” he said.

Oposa said he has talked with some senators about this idea. I have talked to Sen. Migz Zubiri and I support that bill that has been filed in the Senate. He said he has not yet heard of a similar bill filed in the House of Representatives.


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