Looking at DENR

Photo credit: Trina Firmalo, 27 December 2011, Sibuyan Island.

One of the best performing government agencies is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). In fact, in just five months, DENR delivered beyond what was promised by President Rodrigo Duterte. Here is an advocate turned government executive who opened wide the doors of the much criticized office to the masses. While passionate on the cause of the people she frequently visited before she assumed office, she was able to articulate that her allegiance is to her mandate, the Constitution, general welfare and above all, social justice.

But it is not only opening wide the doors of the DENR, the agency goes down to the masses – face to face in communities where it is most needed. With so much housekeeping and cleaning-up to be done within its ranks, which is a bigger challenge, the sustained engagement with the civil society is a must in the spirit of participatory governance and transparency. I believe that those DENR officials who erred have been investigated and held accountable. It is understandable that five months is not enough to adjust in a very beaureucratic and controversial institution, however, having new and passionate people around her are very helpful.
From the issues of climate change, mining to waste and coal fired power plants, we hope to see more her actions on reclamation and biodiversity conservation. We strongly recommend that the Biodiversity Management Bureau’s (BMB) power and budget shall be prioritized equally as other DENR’s line agencies. We have seen BMB’s efforts to conserve, protect and rehabilitate our life-giving ecosystems but its initiatives and programs have been suppressed by institutional limitations. Five years and six months more, there is more to be done at the DENR.
We would like to commend Secretary Lopez for taking a stand on the Paris Agreement on climate change and we hope that the president will already sign the pact for ratification. Her collaboration with other agencies such as the Climate Change Commission for climate action is the best way forward worth to be emulated by other offices especially the Department of Energy. Her strategic engagement with the civil society and the business community will surely pave the way to fair and equitable policy reforms addressing the needs of the present without compromising the capacity of the next generations to survive.