TWO years after the measure was proposed, the Cebu City Council has yet to approve the ordinance creating the City’s own environment office that will oversee the implementation of environment-related programs and policies.
Vice Mayor Michael Rama said they are still fine-tuning the ordinance and will approve it before their term ends, by the end of April at the latest.
The proposed “Ordinance Creating the Cebu City Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) and Providing for its Tasks, Functions, Personnel and Appropriating Funds therefor” was first proposed to the council on May 2008 yet.
During a candidates’ forum last Tuesday, opposition mayoral bets Alvin Garcia and John Henry “Sonny” Osmeña pointed out that the City still does not have the office, which they said is one of the reasons the City is beset with several environmental problems.
The creation of Cenro in every local government unit is mandated by the Local Government Code.
When asked about the status of the ordinance, Rama said they are now in the final stage of deliberations on the proposed measure, which still has to be amended before it is approved.
The ordinance was tackled for final deliberation during the council session last Wednesday, but its approval was again deferred.
“The proposed ordinance is being studied so that there is no duplication of functions and it will complement the other offices working on environmental concerns. We also want to be clear in defining whether it would be a division of an office or an entirely separate department,” he said.
Councilor Nestor Archival, the proponent of the ordinance, is seeking an interim Cenro operational budget of P6.8-million, and an annual budget of P23 million for the salaries and allowances of its 100 officials and employees.
According to the ordinance, the Cenro shall be established to act as an overseer for the information, research, planning, implementation, management, monitoring, enforcement and evaluation of programs, services, projects and activities pertaining to the environment.
Its scope of operation covers forestry and wildlife, solid waste management, waste water treatment, air pollution, energy management, water resources management, noise pollution, mineral resources and eco-tourism management.
The Cenro, as proposed, will include a laboratory unit, enforcement and regulatory unit, administrative unit, research and development unit and ecological management unit.
It will have a department head, assistant department head and environmental specialists to head each unit.
Rama said he wants the office to operate in coordination with the Coastal Management Board and the River Management Board.
“We don’t want any confusion on their roles but rather, we want synergy with these offices so that there is proper accountability,” he added.