ENVIRONMENT Secretary Roy Cimatu has expressed hope that the Department will receive the P3.036 billion additional funding it needed to bankroll three crucial programs the agency will start to implement next year.
The proposed funding increase includes P1.2 billion for the creation of an Enforcement Bureau, and the full implementation of Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018 and the P36 million for land titling.
“We are hopeful the budget augmentation will be included in the final version of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to be passed by Congress—the House of Representatives and the Senate—and signed into law by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Cimatu said.
Both the Majority and Minority blocs of the House threw their support behind Cimatu’s plans to create an enforcement bureau during the budget deliberation last September 6.
Cimatu explained that with its own Enforcement Bureau, the DENR could effectively enforce environmental laws and protect its workers who have been the vicious targets of illegal loggers and other environmental criminals.
He made the appeal a few days after Bienvenido Veguilla Jr., a DENR forest ranger, was brutally killed by suspected illegal loggers in El Nido, Palawan.
The deliberation likewise tackled the need for the additional funds for the full implementation of and the acceleration of land titling and distribution of public lands.
Last Sept. 20, the House approved on third and final reading the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, including the P25.5 billion allocation for the DENR which is 16 percent higher than the P21.96 billion it got for this year.
The Senate had already started its own review of the government’s spending plan for next year and is expected to come up with its own version of the GAB.
“We are hoping that the DENR would get the same extent of support from the senators just like their counterparts in the House when they meet at the bicameral conference committee,” Cimatu said.