PCSDS executive director Teodoro Jose Matta and Heather Variava, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines during the donation ceremony on March 25, 2022. (Photo from the PCSDS)

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) recently donated tools and equipment for wild law enforcement to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff (PCSDS) to ensure the survival of species and their environment.

The equipment donated will aid the PCSDS in a variety of tasks, such as wildlife search and rescue and evidence retention. The equipment contribution will also help the PCSDS’ ECAN Zones Management and Enforcement Division (EZMED) investigate and prosecute environmental violations and cases.

They were received by PCSDS executive director Teodoro Jose Matta from Heather Variava, Chargé d’Affaires ad interim of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines on March 25 during a visit to Puerto Princesa City. The ceremony was held at the Palawan Sustainable Development Training Institute (PSDTI) in Brgy. Irawan.

File photo courtesy of the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development Staff.

In accepting the donations, Matta said they are committed to “effectively perform the mandate to enforce environmental laws in the province as prescribed by the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan Act or the SEP Law”.

“The task at hand is huge and difficult. We recognize that no single agency can single-handedly enforce these environmental laws. That is why we value our partners because we believe that only through strong partnerships can we achieve anything,” he said.

He believes that environmental conservation is best pursued through collaboration among stakeholders and that it is a community obligation.

“It is everybody’s job,” said Matta, adding despite limitations and challenges in carrying out its obligations, the PCSDS will continue to fulfill its mandate of enforcing environmental laws in the province.

Variava, on the other hand, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to commemorate a major milestone in the common vision of environmental protection and conservation between the United States and the Philippines.

“The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development is an integral element of this vision, and we are providing tools and equipment as part of the United States’ commitment to investing in the PCSD’s important environmental efforts. We are encouraged by the progress that has been made in achieving these environmental protection goals, from enforcement to policymaking and implementation,” she said.

The PCSDS will also receive a multi-year project from the US Forest Service (USFS). The USFS will provide technical expertise to assist PCSD in combatting illegal logging, wildlife poaching, and the illegal trafficking of forest products and wildlife.

The US Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) and USAID Philippines are two other US government agencies that will partner with the PCSD.