A government task force to pursue large-scale environmental offenders has been organized, under the overall leadership of Environment Secretary Regina Paz Lopez, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said in a statement.
Under the terms of a Memorandum of Agreement signed Monday, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will coordinate efforts to stop environmental crimes.
The National Anti-Environmental Crimes Task Force will be chaired by her agency, DENR Secretary Lopez said.
According to the MOA, the agencies agree to “immediately respond to verified reports of large-scale environmental violations referred by the task force,” and, among other things, “ensure that communities facing environmental injustice, harassment or threats are protected from environmental law violators.”
Although the MOA did not specify what sorts of activities are considered “large-scale” violators, in the statement from Lopez’ office it was stressed that since she took office on July 1, “a total of seven mining firms have already been suspended for not complying with environmental and safety standards.”
Lopez again declared that under her watch, “the DENR will pursue both enforcement and development within the environment and natural resources sector.”