THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have field offices called Penro (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office) in all provinces and Cenro (Community Environment and Natural Resources Office) in selected cities and towns. There's only one Cenro in Pampanga based in the City of San Fernando.

Private companies meanwhile are required by law to have Pollution Control Officers or PCO's to handle their environmental management system. The PCO's are required to submit quarterly reports to the Environmental Management Bureau of the DENR on their compliance to environmental laws.

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Local government units on the other hand may or may not have environmental officers. That's because the creation of Environment and Natural Resources Officer (Enro) for LGU's is only optional under the Local Government Code. Some appoint environment officers while highly urbanized areas like Quezon City have an environmental department with complete staff.

A recent study by the DENR revealed that less than 33 percent of the country's municipalities have designated Enro's. The top four are Region 2 (Cagayan Valley), Region 12 (South Cotabato), Region 11 (Davao) and Region 4A (Calabarzon).

Recently however, DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said he will push for the mandatory creation of Enro's in all local government units nationwide. He added that because it's optional, very few LGUs have Enro's who are qualified for the job. Article 14 of the Local Government Code, sets the qualifications, powers and duties of an Enro.

"Many of those designated as Enro's are permanent employees such as planning or information officers who have other functions or duties; so that they're being designated as Enro is just an 'add-on' task for them," said Secretary Paje.

Under the Local Government Code, an Enro is responsible for the formulation of environmental measures as well as develop plans and strategies to be approved for implementation by the LGU head. The Enro also oversees environmental projects, especially those related to community forestry, small-scale mining, land, air and water pollution; and the rehabilitation of environmental damage caused by calamities or disasters, among others.

In Mabalacat, the creation of a Municipal Enro, a whole office and not just an officer, is one of the ordinances that I will propose. The Mayor supports the move, but the limitation set by the Local Government Code on the budget allotment for personnel services is one obstacle we need to hurdle.

Before the election, I was part of a multi-sectoral working group that was tasked to review the proposed Environmental Code for Pampanga. The code includes the creation of the PG-Enro. I hope that the review will resume and the code passed to strengthen the capitol's environmental programs.