Environmentalist and presidential candidate Nicanor Perlas has raised the need to revamp the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Perlas, who was guest speaker in a forum about the environment at the University of San Carlos (USC) on Jan. 12, told news reporters that if he is elected President he will reorganize the DENR and its line bureau, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

He raised the need to separate the DENR’s developmental and regulatory functions.

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He alleged that the DENR and EMB are considered as “sensitive and lucrative” government agencies. They are known to be sources of income of government and their transactions lack transparency, he said.

EMB is responsible for the issuance of environmental compliance certificates (ECC), which is a requirement in the implementation of private and government projects that affect the environment.

“In general, DENR is betraying communities, especially if they allow big industries to claim lots in areas that are known to be ecologically fragile,” Perlas said.

He said that by separating EMB from DENR, the former will have more teeth to regulate activities and projects that have the potential to harm the environment. He added that there were attempts to separate the two in Congress, but none was successful.

If made president of the country, he will also implement mechanisms to make the two government agencies more transparent, like more participation by civic society in transactions.

He added that such a system will eventually spread to other departments, like the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the Department of Education (DepEd) that, according to Perlas, are also known for “lucrative” transactions.

Perlas, in his speech to USC students, said the country is in the middle of an ecological emergency due to the effects of massive development. He explained that this ecological emergency affects plants and animals, particularly food sources like rice and corn.