Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed hope that the environmental laws will be "more adequately and effectively enforced" throughout the country with the recent launch of a special course for DENR frontliners and uniformed personnel.

"Environmental crimes are evolving, thus, also presenting a clear threat to our state security. Our enemies can now cross borders with ease. They are more sophisticated, syndicated, and organized," Cimatu said.

The DENR launched the special course on enforcement frontliners through its Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Academy at the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Amphitheater on Sept. 17.

During the program, a ceremonial signing of the enforcement manuals and curriculum modules was conducted together with the Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS) and the Human Resources Development Service (HRDS).

These enforcement manuals and curriculum modules were officially turned over to Cimatu by Undersecretary for Legal, Administration, Human Resources and Legislative Affairs Ernesto Adobo, Jr., Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito Antonio De Leon, ELEPS OIC Director Ret. BGen. Reuel Sorilla, and HRDS Director Ric Enriquez, Ph.D.

The entire course, which will run from Sept. 17 to Oct. 22, 2021, consists of five modules with two weeks of webinar, two weeks of practicum, and 12-hour community service on the field.

The participants consist of 44 personnel from the DENR Central Office and field offices, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, Armed Forces of the Philippines at Philippine Air Force.

Cimatu said the training course will provide the environmental frontliners the proper concepts, skills, and techniques in enforcement.

"With this course, our environmental defenders will be more competent, especially in utilizing appropriate modern technologies to their advantage," he added.

Cimatu also said that the DENR's interim office, the ELEPS together with the HRDS "will make us realize our vision to create a more systematic and professionalized environmental law enforcement within the DENR."

According to the DENR chief, "strengthening the existing mechanisms in environmental law enforcement, regulations, and policies is needed to address dangers posed not only to the environment but also to those who protect it."

"We are at war against environmental criminals to protect our environment and our people. However, the saddest part of our battle is losing people in the line of duty. These are our environmental heroes who were mercilessly murdered while on duty or on their job, some were gunned down, some hacked to death," Cimatu said.

Last June, five DENR workers were inducted into the roster of environmental heroes by the Environmental Heroes Foundation Inc. (EHFI) for the World Environment Day celebration. They were killed while performing their duties as environmental defenders.

Families of the honorees received the posthumous awards consisting of plaques of recognition and livelihood assistance amounting to P1.8 million through the EHFI.

"No amount of money, awards, or recognition, or even promotion can ever replace the lives of the people who died defending our environment and natural resources. A single life lost is one too many to move anyone to pursue steps and stop this trend," Cimatu said. ###