Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has vowed to strengthen the field offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with additional manpower, even as he instructed all Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs) nationwide to strictly enforce environmental laws.

Cimatu made the statement during his visit to CENRO Sanchez Mira, Cagayan province on Sunday, Oct. 28.

“You are the frontline in the implementation of environment and natural resources programs, and in the enforcement of environmental laws,” he told the officials and employees of DENR Region 2, adding that he had “high regard” for CENROs in solving environmental problems in the country.

According to DENR chief, he will continue to work for the strengthening of the CENROs by increasing the number of personnel who will enforce and monitor compliance with the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the top priority programs of the DENR under his watch.

In 2017, the DENR had hired lawyers who were deployed in every CENRO and implementing PENROs.

This year, the Environmental Management Bureau and Mines and Geosciences Bureau, both are line agencies under the DENR, have assigned environmental management officers, geologists and mining engineers at the DENR field offices.

The DENR Secretary has also reiterated his marching order to ensure that all rivers should be clean. “If the river is dirty, the CENR officer is not doing his job. You should mobilize the community to ensure the cleanliness of our rivers,” Cimatu told the CENR officers.

He praised Region 2 for having clean rivers and for its compliance with environmental laws.

The field officials were also instructed to work closely with local chief executives in putting up sanitary landfills as he ordered that dump sites should never be allowed.

Cimatu stressed that forest protection should be intensified by preventing trees from being cut. He also announced his plan to recruit “environmental cadets” who will become assistant CENR officers. “Qualified personnel should pass the entrance examination and will undergo training at the ENR Academy in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija,” he said.

Still along this line, the DENR has embarked this year on a comprehensive training program to hone the executive leadership and administrative competencies of DENR’s frontline officers, called the “Environment and Natural Resources Learning Program” or ELP.

The ELP offers three modules consisting of ENR Management Course, ENR Leadership Course, and ENR Frontline Course.

So far, a total of 113 DENR frontline officers and personnel have undergone the ELP. Of these, 12 PENROS, 22 CENROS and three directors have completed the Environmental Management Course while 76 frontline personnel, consisting mostly of administrative and field rank-and-file workers completed the ENR Frontline Course.

The ELP draws it origin from the “UP Program for Environmental Governance” (UPPEG), an environmental governance program the DENR launched with the University of the Philippines in 2016.

Some 11 PENROs and 17 CENROs, including two senior foresters, finished UPPEG’s six-module program consisting of policy formulation and analysis, transformational leadership, conflict resolution, effective communication skills, resource mobilization for business development and networking, environmental management planning, and managing environmental risks and resiliency. ###