The Cebu Provincial Government, under the leadership of Gov. Hilario P. Davide III and Vice Gov. Agnes A. Magpale, was recognized by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and environment advocate groups for taking the lead in advocating for the protection of the environment.
“Cebu is once more setting the bar high, and is the first province in the country to integrate the strong features of the Fisheries Code, as amended, to fight illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing,” read the certificate of gratitude and recognition given to Davide. “Under your leadership, the enforcement of fisheries and other environmental laws to protect our marine resources is being mainstreamed.”
Together with UNEP, the recognition was also given by the United for Governance and Sustainable Development, Oceana and the Office of the Ombudsman.
Lawyer Gloria Estenzo-Ramos, Oceana chairperson, handed over the certificate of recognition after the Cebu Provincial Government’s regular flag-raising ceremony at the Capitol Grounds yesterday.
“The environment needs patriot, and environment protection is patriotism in action,” Estenzo-Ramos said in her brief message during the awarding ceremony.
Estenzo-Ramos said that Cebu is the first local government unit (LGU) that took the initiative of integrating the amended Republic Act (RA) 10654, or The Fisheries Code of the Philippines, with its existing local ordinance.
The Provincial Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Ordinance, or Provincial Ordinance 2012-05, was passed in 2012. The measure was amended thrice in 2014, 2015 and 2018.
In April 2018, Secretary Eduardo Año of the Department of Interior and Local Government ordered all LGUs to pass a similar local ordinance and integrate this with the national law. The order came after the law was amended in January 2018.
Ramos said that Oceana and the other international environment organizations and the anti-graft body recognized Davide’s efforts in establishing local partners, through a memorandum of agreement (MOA), to protect the Cebu’s marine environment.
She said Davide forged agreements with local fisherfolk associations, civil society organizations, the Archdiocese of Cebu, and law enforcement agencies to ensure the enforcement of the law and the local measures.
Rodel Bontuyan and Jason Lozano of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (Penro) were also recognized during the ceremony. Bontuyan was awarded for showing how devolution and decentralization of the environment office should be done, while Lozano was recognized for strictly enforcing fisheries ordinance and not breaking under political pressure.
Other awardees were lawyer Rhea Yray for making it easy for coastal law enforcers to succeed and difficult for politicians to intervene, and Louie Rebamonte for his courage and dedication as a public servant. Both of them are Penro personnel.
Environment Protection, climate change and disaster risk management is the fourth priority of Davide and Vice Gov. Agnes A. Magpale under their administration’s Six-Key Development Agenda.
The other priority agenda are health and social services; countryside development; education and technical vocational training; infrastructure development, tourism and investment promotion; and law and order.osos