Describing the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development or PCSD as an “office neither here, nor there,” Board Member Winston Arzaga proposed in today’s session of the Provincial Board to study the possibility of changing the charter of the said office from the national government to the provincial government. Arzaga specifically suggested the idea of Palawan’s three congressmen passing a bill that will seek such transfer.
Arzaga’s “out-of-the-box” proposal came during the deliberation for the passage of Board Member Albert Rama’s proposal to create the Palawan Council for Protected Areas Management (PCPAM). Arzaga, who called the said proposal “laudable”, pointed out that there will be a question of duplicity as the proposed PCPAM will have almost the same mandate as PCSD. The legislator said he has been toying with his idea about PCSD for quite some time.
Rama said he is aware that the PCSD is also mandated to do the supposed task of proposed PCPAM. However, said the legislator, there seems to be no present action and local government units are also declaring ‘protected areas’ in their jurisdictions. Rama emphasized that the question is how these protected areas can be complimented, coordinated and connected to each other. The legislator said such will be the tasks of PCPAM.
Arzaga said that if the PCSD will be under the provincial government, the legislators can fully harmonize and maximize the tremendous potential of the office.
PNNI Executive Director Atty. Robert Chan, meanwhile, called the proposal “ignorant as it is naive” when asked about his comment on the matter.
“It is obviously meant to give the governor more powers over the province’s natural resources which we at civil society continue to oppose considering the track record of the governor [as being] more utilitarian than for conservation,” Chan said.
PCSD Executive Director Nelson Devanadera has ‘no comment’ yet on the proposal, and merely said, “hintayin na lang natin ang federalism”.
The proposed ordinance for PCPAM’s creation and the possible changing of PCSD’s charter were both referred to the Committee on Rules and Laws and Committee on Environment for joint deliberation.
PCSD is a multi-sectoral and intergovernmental body mandated to enforce Republic Act 7611 or the Strategic Environmental Palawan (SEP) Act.