The Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office No. XIII participated in the Regional Consultation Workshop on the Proposed Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) for Visayas and Mindanao Cluster on March 4-6, 2020 at Diamond Hotel, Cebu City.

The three-day workshop was attended by participants from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Environmental Management Bureau and Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Offices within Visayas and Mindanao. 

The workshop proper started with a welcome message from the Regional Executive Director of DENR Regional Office No. VII, Engr. Paquito D. Melicor.  Following his message, he showcased the protected areas and unique features of Central Visayas which consists of four island provinces, namely Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor. He added that the island provinces are unique attributes of the region in terms of monitoring and protecting its natural resources.

Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force (EPETF) Executive Director Nilo B. Tamoria presented the rationale of the activity.  He stated that DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu ordered the urgent passing of the bill regarding the creation of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau considering that the enforcement aspect is one of the identified problems of the DENR.

The plenary proper which covered three major areas ensued after the presentation of the rationale. Atty. Daniel Darius M. Nicer, DENR Assistant Secretary for Enforcement, discussed the Spatio-Temporal Analysis on Environmental Enforcement during the first part of the plenary.  The importance of data accuracy was emphasized.  He added that factual information is crucial to the provision of solutions to a problem. He imparted that the DENR has adopted the system in solving problems in Boracay and Manila Bay which proved to be effective.

For the second part of the plenary, Dir. Tamoria presented the Draft Bill on the Creation of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau of the DENR.  The creation of EPEB as a uniformed service and a line agency under the DENR was discussed in his presentation.  On the same note, the proposed bureau’s powers and functions, jurisdiction, organizational structures, benefits and privileges, stakeholders’ engagement, people’s participation, mechanisms on response and feedback and funding and appropriations were comprehensively discussed.  Lastly, the three-part consultation on the proposed bill was facilitated by the Panel of the Technical Working Group (TWG) Members.

The activity ended with the parting message of Usec. Jim O. Sampulna, DENR Undersecretary for Field Operations, Enforcement and Muslim Affairs, in which he expressed his appreciation for the keen involvement of the participants and gave assurance that all inputs and comments will be discussed by the TWG. He added that there is an urgent need to create an enforcement bureau to address the increasing number of environmental violations.  As a final point, he conveyed that Sec. Cimatu himself appealed to the Members of the House of Representatives during the budget hearing for assistance in the establishment of an enforcement bureau under the DENR the soonest time possible. Sec. Cimatu strongly condemned the killings of DENR personnel in the frontline fighting against environmental crimes.