DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 December) – The Mindanawon chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources has filed a bill seeking to promote the welfare and provide protection to environment workers in government, non-governmental organizations and environmental units of private corporations or enterprises.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri of Bukidnon filed Senate Bill 2550 or the Magna Carta for Environment and Natural Resources Personnel to “promote and improve the health, physical safety, social and economic well-being of the environment and natural resources personnel, their living and working conditions, security and terms of employment,” a press statement from his office said.
The bill seeks to develop the workers’ “skills and capabilities in order that they will be more responsive and better equipped to deliver environmental management functions” and offers benefits for those in government service, to remain there.
Under the bill, protection and benefits shall be given to the personnel of the Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), its bureaus, regional offices, and attached agencies, environmental units in the other government agencies and the ecological waste management department of the local government units including forest rangers and park rangers.
It also provides the same protection and benefits to “private individuals and groups who are engaged in the protection of the environment such as NGOs and environmental units of private corporations or enterprises.”
Hazard allowance equivalent to 25% of the monthly basic salary will also be given to those who are involved in hazardous undertakings such as field inspectors, waste monitoring and sampling specialists and those whose duties expose them to radiation, volcanic eruption and other occupational risks.
“We have passed laws protecting public health workers, overseas or migrant workers, it is high time that we provide the same benefits and recognition to our green army who are tasked to protect, preserve and maintain the quality of the environment and natural resources of the country,” Zubiri said.
He noted the important role of environment and natural resources personnel and how their lives “are often in danger” in contested areas.
Zubiri lamented that there had been numerous cases of unresolved crimes against environmental activists, anti-mining leaders or the so called “green army” and even journalists who are strongly involved in environmental protection campaign.
Zubiri said he was “alarmed by news reports on the gruesome death of Jessie Camangyan, a radio broadcaster and anti illegal logging advocate in Manay town, Davao Oritental who was shot dead while hosting a program on June 15, 2010; Mike Rivera, an anti-mining movement leader in Calapan, Mindoro Oriental, suffered the same fate on May 16, 2010 and Gensun Agustin, a leader of the illegal magnetite mining in Buguey, Cagayan Valley, on March 1, 2010.” (MindaNews)