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Cimatu orders creation of ELEPS

June 20, 2021 Cory Martinez 429 views

TO strengthen the enforcement of environmental laws in the country, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the creation of the Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS).

Cimatu explained that the creation of ELEPS, which will serve as an interim service, was made while the DENR awaits the approval of the proposed Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) bill that was filed in the Senate and House of Representatives.

We have a growing number of fallen environmental heroes. This is how serious we do our jobs here at DENR, but I hope and pray that no more lives will be lost because of defending our environment,” Cimatu said.

Jonas Leones, DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs, on the other hand, said that the department has many laws to implement, but they are lacking when it comes to enforcement.

“While we are waiting for the passage of EPEB, our Secretary has allowed to craft this order to install an enforcement service for the effective protection of our forests and other natural resources,” Leones said.

Under the DENR administrative order, ELEPS will cover “all environmental laws as enumerated in the Supreme Court Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases involving enforcement or violations of environmental and natural resources laws, rules and regulations,” such as Terrestrial Laws, Coastal, Marine, and Aquatic Resources Laws, Aerial Law, and other Environment and Natural Resources Laws.

ELEPS was created as a defined authority that will promote effective and strong enforcement of environmental laws, establish coordinative mechanisms, utilize science and technology, and develop highly competent manpower that will encompass existing enforcement units, such as the EPETF, Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife (POGI), and other enforcement task forces of the DENR.

With bigger scope and functions from the EPETF, enforcement units of DENR’s regional offices, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Environmental Management Bureau, Protected Area Management Office, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices, and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices will be under the operational control of ELEPS and its supervising officials.

The DENR’s bureaus and attached agencies will also maintain close coordination with ELEPS in networking with national and international organizations that address environmental crimes.ELEPS’ lead team will be from DENR’s Central Office to complement its daily operations.

Among its several functions, ELEPS has end-to-end duties–from the enforcement, stoppage of ongoing violations, arrest, management of confiscated items, investigation, preparation for prosecution of environmental criminals until execution of decisions by the court.

The ELEPS will also coordinate with the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the National Bureau of Investigation, and government-owned and controlled organizations to aid in the prevention and fight against environmental crimes.

The new service plans to equip enforcement officers with agency-issued firearms and self-protective gears and provide capacity building to effectively perform their official functions.

Through ELEPS, enforcement officers will be able to conduct intelligence operations, issue notices of appearance for investigation, as well as implement Cease and Desist Orders, Closure Orders, and Notices of Violation, and DENR Enforcement Orders for in flagrante violations, among others.