Environmental crimes

>> Monday, January 30, 2017

Ike Señeres

It may just be a play of words, but any violation of any law is a crime, no matter what the law is, and no matter what kind of violation it was. For some reasons that I do not understand however, the Philippine National Police (PNP) seems to be focusing its attention only to crimes against persons and crimes against property. As a matter of fact, it came to my attention that the PNP only reports the so-called “index crimes” as the source of data for the so-called “crime rate”. As defined by the PNP, crimes against persons include murder, homicide, physical injury and rape, and crimes against property include robbery, theft, car napping and cattle rustling.
As far as I know, illegal drugs and illegal gambling are not included in the so-called “index crimes” and that may be so because these two would not fall under the category of either crimes against persons or crimes against property.
Could that be the reason why these two crimes were practically ignored by the PNP until President Rodrigo Roa Duterte came along?
I hope not, but I have heard arguments from some police officials that illegal drugs and illegal gambling are not really that important, because “no one gets hurt”. Is that perhaps the reason why former President Benigno Aquino said that illegal gambling is not his priority?
Since I am not a lawyer, I have the liberty to interpret the law any way I want to, even at the risk of sounding too naive. Having said that, I will now say that in the case of environmental laws, it is not true that “no one gets hurt”, because the environment gets “hurt” and when that happens, people get “hurt” too by environmental damage.
I will also say that environmental crimes are crimes against property, even if the proprietary rights would belong to the country in general and not to people in particular. On a higher scale, national patrimony is national property, even if no one holds title to it. Having said that, could we now include environmental crimes as “index crimes”?
At the very least, we could say that environmental crimes would include the pollution of land, air and water. While that may be correct to say, there could be extreme violations in the case of land, such as the extraction of black sands from the rivers and believe it or not, the excavation of entire mountains for the purpose of exporting the soil in unprocessed form.
Perhaps exporting may not even be an appropriate term, because I have heard of a mountain in Luzon  that was leveled and after which, the soil was used to build the Chinese bases in the West Philippine Sea, within our own territory, using our own soil! If that is not a crime against persons, perhaps that could be a crime of treason?
At the very least, I could say that we are in a bit of a quandary, because we have the PNP that does not seem to have the resources to implement water pollution laws, and we have a Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) that does not seem to have the police powers to implement these laws.
Well, we do have a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) that could help enforce water pollution laws, but perhaps their officers and staff have to be made aware that they are now a civilian organization that could enforce civilian laws without being bothered about militarization issues. Every now and then, the Philippine Navy (PN) helps in cleaning the bays and that is good for publicity purposes, but for that matter, the PCG could do that daily.
I think that the problem with our environmental laws is that there are too many agencies that are supposed to implement these laws so much so that a lot of finger pointing happens when these are not implemented. Take smoke belching for example. The Clean Air Act was passed many years ago, but our air is still polluted. Who is really accountable for that?
Should it be the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) only, or could we also blame the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transportation Regulatory Board (LTFRB)? How about the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA)? Should they not be put to task also?
Perhaps it would be a good idea to apply the “supply chain approach” in the implementation of our laws. Using that approach, each government agency in the supply chain could be put to task, and that way, these agencies could no longer point their fingers at the other agencies.
Although the DOE may not be directly involved in the implementation of air pollution laws, they control the standards of fuels that contribute to the pollution. Down the line, the LTO should no longer register vehicles that are belching smoke and if any operator would get around the LTO, the LTFRB should no longer give them a franchise to operate.

For feedback email iseneres@yahoo.com or text +639956441780


  © Blogger templates Palm by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP  

Web Statistics