To reinforce capacities for environmental law enforcement and crisis response, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through its Environment and Natural Resources Academy (ENRA)—will launch a special course for enforcement frontliners at the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Amphitheater on Sept. 17, Friday.

With the theme "The ENR Academy: Mechanism Towards Effective Environmental Protection and Management," the special course aims to equip the participants with the DENR's programs, priority projects, and basic ENR services for effective environmental law enforcement.

The entire course, which will run from Sept. 20 to Oct. 17, 2021, consists of five modules with two weeks of webinar, two weeks of practicum, and 12-hour community service on the field.

The pioneering batch will have a total of 44 participants consisting of 35 enforcement personnel from DENR Central Office and several field offices, three from the Philippine National Police, three from the Philippine Coast Guard, and one each from the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine Air Force.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu underscored the urgent need for a continuous environmental training program for enforcement officers to manage challenging situations effectively.

"Our environmental defenders from various parts of the Philippines have encountered violent attacks in the past few years, making this a pressing concern for the DENR to train and equip them in anticipation of more serious assaults that may happen in the future," Cimatu said.

"This pandemic has not deterred the onslaught of bloodshed against those who are just doing their duties to protect the country’s natural resources," he added.

Data from DENR’s Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS) show that a total of 10 environment workers of the agency have been assaulted while on duty since 2017.

Nine of these 10 incidents resulted in death, while one has survived.

Meanwhile, four of the 10 incidents took place during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

In one episode of the Talk to The People, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte backed Cimatu’s statements, saying that "the culprits are not afraid when facing the forest guards that the DENR has deployed in hotspots."

Cimatu, in response, said that while the DENR "has experienced a hard time in strictly promulgating the laws because the perpetrators are not afraid of the agency’s enforcement arm, the DENR shall continue upholding the agency’s mandates."

"The special course on enforcement shall also support to fast track the passage of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau Bill or EPEB Bill,” Cimatu added. ###