LOCAL government units (LGUs] share responsibility in enforcing environmental laws, said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).

DENR-CAR held a two-day Paralegal Training on ENR and other related laws and regulations for LGU partners.

The training was hosted by the Enforcement Division (ED) of DENR-CAR at the Venus Parkview Hotel in Baguio City from August 24 to 25.

DENR Regional Director Ralph Pablo challenged to officials to attain a common goal, there must be a common understanding of the laws and regulations they are mandated to enforce.

Forester Elizabeth Antolin, head of the Compliance Monitoring Service Section of the ED, underscored the importance of leveling off with different LGUs as environmental partners in the stewardship of the region's environment and natural resources to harmonize all efforts and to re-align policies according to relevant laws for environmental protection.

"With our common areas of concern in the conservation and protection of the environment, reason dictates us that we have to work together in harmony," Antolin said in her lecture entitled the "State of the ENR Law Enforcement in CAR."

Forester Joel Behis, chief of the ED, meanwhile, acknowledged before the different mayors, municipal assessors, and selected village chiefs DENR cannot protect, conserve, and sustainably manage the environment on their own.

Following the two-day seminar, a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) by the DENR was forged with other key government agencies like the Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of National Defense, Department of Tourism, Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines among others for the creation of a task force called A-Team Kalikasan.

This declaration of cooperation chaired by DENR Secretary Regina Lopez promotes cross-agency coordination for the enhancement of environmental quality in the whole country.

In a dialogue with the different local chief executives and municipal assessors, Pablo appealed for the strict appraisal of applications prior to the disposition of tax declarations, often construed as a proof of ownership.

While citing occupation of forestlands as a direct violation of Presidential Decree 705, Pablo declared a forestland by its very nature is beyond the commerce of man. As such, development cannot be made in such area and its integrity should be maintained.

Participants were also given basic instruction on the principles concerning ENR Law Enforcement Protocol.

A workshop was conducted on the rudiments of the courts needed for building up of environmental cases against offenders.

To boost the solidarity between the DENR and the different LGUs, members of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), an attached agency of the DENR also delivered informative lectures on the proper adoption of Solid Waste Management and the Water and Clean Air Act.

Other relevant laws and concerns pertaining to the roles of the LGUs in the protection and preservation of the environment were also give due course. These include an appraisal of the salient features of the Chainsaw Act (RA 9175), Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act (RA 9147), and Executive Order 23 which declares a moratorium on the cutting and harvesting of timber in the natural and residual forests and creating the anti-illegal logging task force. (Alaska Turaray/DENR-CAR)