GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The provincial government of South Cotabato is going down to the “roots” to address cases of environment-related crimes or violations.
Engineer Siegfred Flaviano, head of the Provincial Environment Management Office, said Thursday they are drafting a proposed executive order (EO) for the creation of a Provincial Environmental Crime Task Force.
Flaviano said the special task force would exclusively run after violators of various environmental laws and regulations in the province’s 10 towns and lone city.
“Instead of just focusing on enforcement, we will be doing case buildup and filing cases. We will be addressing the problem by going to the roots and running after those really behind them,” he said in a press briefing.
Flaviano said the move was an offshoot of recent discussions between South Cotabato Governor Reynaldo Tamayo and officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 12 (Soccsksargen).
Under the proposed EO, the local government will partner with various government agencies and other stakeholders to address environment-related violations, he said, adding this would cover violations of all environmental laws, such as those on pollution, mining, biodiversity, and management of protected areas.
Flaviano said the task force would involve representatives of the DENR; local government units; intelligence units of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines; National Bureau of Investigation; Criminal Investigation and Detection Group; local prosecution office; and the Provincial Legal Office.
Through the intelligence and investigation units, the task force will determine personalities behind environmental crimes and gather evidence so charges could be filed against them, he said, citing the financiers, protectors, operators, and other personalities behind the illegal activities, among them the continuing illegal logging and the destructive “banlas” or sluice mining.
The task force will have an enforcement component, which will be tasked to conduct operations, including the application of search warrants, Flaviano said.
“We will help each other and coordinate our actions to properly address these problems,” he added. (PNA)