Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr., chairman of the Senate committee on local government, highlighted the importance of amending a provision of the Local Government Code of 1991, particularly by mandating the appointment of the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer, or the PENRO.
“We have to remember that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officers in the province are essentially the representatives of the national agency. Therefore, they bring down to the province level the programs and policies of the DENR. The PENRO will take those programs and policies and apply them to their respective provinces,” Senator Marcos said.
At the Senate committee hearing held on 24 February 2011, Sen. Bongbong explained that each PENRO is specific to its respective province, since the needs and concerns of every province are slightly or totally different from one another. In contrast, the national policies and programs expressed through the DENR are constant throughout the whole country.
“The function of the DENR is to formulate and implement national programs and policies, while PENRO would translate it into local projects and strategies that would fit into the varying needs and situation of each community. They need one another, and I think that is the way we should handle it,” Bongbong said.
Referred to the committee on local government, Senate Bill 2274, introduced by Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, seeks to amend Section 463, Chapter 2, Title Four, Book III of Republic Act No. 7160, by making the appointment of PENRO mandatory instead of optional.
The bill enjoins the government to protect and preserve precious forest reserves to avoid destructive flooding in the future and that it should designate an official, the PENRO, who should be responsible for ensuring that forest lands in every province are protected from wanton and illegal cutting of logs.