SENATE President Vicente Sotto III on Thursday pushed for an inventory of the country’s environmental laws and an accounting of their implementation by the executive branch as he underscored the need to adapt outdated guidelines with the country’s current landscape.
Sotto said a review of the status of implementation of the laws that past and present Congresses have passed has become crucial especially in the wake of how the recent massive flooding in many provinces in Luzon due to incessant rains caught the national and local government units flat-footed.
“Our existing environmental laws have laid down a long list of guidelines and protocols that LGUs and government offices needed to do before, during and after extreme weather disturbances affect our country. These laws were passed by Congress to make sure that the country, especially LGUs, are one step ahead when super typhoons like Rolly and Ulysses cross our area of responsibility,” Sotto pointed out.
It is disconcerting, Sotto added, that despite the existence of laws and their corresponding implementing rules and regulations (IRR), the national government and LGUs were still ill-prepared when flood waters due to non-stop rains caused by typhoon Ulysses submerged houses and business establishments in Rodriguez in the province of Rizal and how stored water from the Magat Dam spilled the swollen Cagayan River to the towns of Isabela and Cagayan provinces in the Cagayan Valley region, washing away properties and claiming lives in its path.
“Anong nangyari? Bakit hindi naging handa ang ating pamahalaan at ang mga LGUs nang tumawid sa ating bansa ang mga bagyong sina Rolly at Ulysses? Hindi ba sila sumunod sa mga alituntunin na nakasaad sa ating mga batas? Isa pang mahalagang tanong, ipinatutupad ba ng mga ahensiya ng ating pamahalaan ang mga batas ukol sa kalikasan at natural disasters na ipinasa ng Kongreso?” Sotto asked.
Sotto wants the government, particularly the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), to apprise Congress of the status of implementation of the numerous laws put in place by lawmakers to protect the people and their lands from the fury of Mother Earth.
“We need a feedback from the executive if the provisions of the laws are being implemented properly. The executive needs to make a full assessment of these laws because we in Congress need to know which of these are already obsolete and needs to be amended or repealed, and which are still effective and relevant to the current state of our environment. These reviews should be done regularly, communication between the executive and legislative branches of our government should be strengthened to prevent more loss of lives and properties,” Sotto said.
“Tama na ang pasahan ng sisi. Hindi nakakatulong ang pagtuturuan ng iba’t ibang ahensiya ng ating gobyerno sa panahon ng kalamidad. Sa ganitong mga pagkakataon, dapat ay nagkakaisa at nagtutulungan tayong lahat,” he added.