The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) prefers a permanent bureau to enforce environmental laws and regulations instead of a task force that is “temporary in nature.”

A press release from the government agency on September 4 from the DENR said this was pointed out by Nilo Tamoria, executive director of the DENR’s Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force (EPETF), during an inter-agency consultation webinar on the proposed bill creating the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) held on August 28.

Tamoria noted that a new task force is created with each new administration, and this has become a repetitive cycle that negatively affects the continuity or sustainability of the DENR’s law enforcement efforts.

“‘Yun na nga ‘yung nakitang karanasan ng DENR, walang sustainability at malakas na enforcement mandate and yet ang dami nitong ipinatutupad na mga batas,” Tamoria said during the webinar organized by the EPETF and the United States Agency for International Development, through its Protect Wildlife Project.

In November last year, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu formed a technical working group to study and draft a proposal creating an enforcement bureau within the DENR.

Cimatu said that by having a permanent enforcement bureau, the DENR will be more effective in stopping environmental crimes, such as illegal logging and smuggling of wildlife species.

Last June 15, House Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda filed House Bill 6973 seeking to create the EPEB under the DENR. The proposed measure has been referred to the Committees on Government Reorganization and on Natural Resources.

The bill aims to capacitate DENR enforcers through the establishment of an Enforcement Academy, where they can learn skills and techniques normally taught to mainstream law enforcement agents.

At present, the DENR is dependent on law enforcement agencies, particularly the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation, in the implementation of environmental laws.

Once in operation, Tamoria said the EPEB will “level up the DENR as the country’s lead agency for environmental law enforcement.”