SECRETARY Roy Cimatu expressed hope the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would receive the P3.036 billion additional funding it needed to bankroll three crucial programs the agency will start to implement next year.
“We are hopeful the budget augmentation will be included in the final version of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill to be passed by Congress-the House of Representatives and the Senate-and signed into law by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Cimatu said.
The proposed funding increase includes P1.2 billion for the Enforcement Bureau; P1.8 billion for the full implementation of the Republic Act No. 11038 or the “Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018” and P36 million for land titling.
During the budget deliberation at the House Appropriations Committee held last Sept. 6, both the Majority and Minority blocs threw their support behind Cimatu’s plans to create an Enforcement Bureau with the assurance that they would push for the augmentation of the DENR budget during the bicameral conference on the 2020 GAB.
He explained that with its own Enforcement Bureau, the DENR could effectively enforce environmental laws and protect its workers who have been the vicious targets of illegal loggers and other environmental criminals.
The environment chief made the appeal a few days after Bienvenido Veguilla Jr., a DENR forest ranger, was brutally killed by suspected illegal loggers in El Nido, Palawan.
The deliberation likewise tackled the need for the additional funds for the full implementation of and the acceleration of land titling and distribution of public lands.
Last Sept. 20, the House approved on third and final reading the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, including the P25.5 billion allocation for the DENR which is 16 percent higher than the P21.96 billion it got for this year.
The Senate had already started its own review of the government’s spending plan for next year and is expected to come up with its own version of the GAB.
“We are hoping that the DENR would get the same extent of support from the senators just like their counterparts in the House when they meet at the bicameral conference committee,” Cimatu said. (DENR)