Baguio environment code needs more fixing

By RENDILYN CUYOP
www.nordis.net

BAGUIO CITY — The draft of the city’s environment code faced more scrutiny from the local legislative body during the council session on June 20, 2016, amending loopholes targeted by the council members from the first reading.

Prior to its approval after the second reading, the Technical Working Group (TWG) were told to delete five pages of Article II on the declaration of policies. Similarly, in the absence of a complete listing for safeguarded lands, the council members questioned the provision and definition as interpreted in the code.

Councilor Peter Fianza pointed out redundant provisions on illegal structures on safeguarded lands and policies on summary demolitions that overlap with the local chief’s function. “The summary abatement of illegal structures belongs to the local chief, do we need to provide for it? Are we trying to direct the actions of the local chief executive who has the discretionary power to implement the summary demolition?” he asked.

Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda also voiced a review on imposition of penalties for violations stated in the code adopting the national solid waste management penal provisions.The councilor suggests that administrative fines contained in city ordinances be adopted in the code for violations not covered by the national solid waste management program. “Because the way you put it down here all the penalties will always have a case, imagine the trouble of having every violator brought to court and we filing a case,” she said.

Other concerns raised by the council was the absence of provisions linking the Baguio Water District in providing a potable water system including other observations relative to environmental fees. However, despite major overhauling of the environment code, Mayor Mauricio Domogan lauded the local legislators for deliberating on and approving the code. “I am sure that it is not a perfect law but at least we have one, so that in the future if there is a need to improve or change it then we already have an environmental code to amend,” he said.

The council expects to give their final approval of the draft, as amended, in their last session on June 27 before term of the incumbent administration lapses. The environment code is drafted by the tasked TWG members from line agencies and DENR, CEPMO and Environmental Management Bureau headed by Atty. Erdolfo Balajadia, it has been pending with the city council since its first filing in 2004. # nordis.net

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