ConCom proposes to include environmental rights in new Constitution

ConCom proposes to include environmental rights in new Constitution

FILE PHOTO: View from Mt. Pulag. Pulag is one of the popular treks for Filipino mountaineers and is Luzon’s highest peak with 2,926 metres above sea level and country’s 3rd highest mountain. (Mike Santos / Photoville International)

MANILA, Philippines — Despite having strong environmental laws, the country continues to experience degradation and destruction of the environment.

The current situation in Boracay Island is just one in a long list.

According to the Consultative Committee (ConCom) chair retired Chief Justice Reynato Puno, it has something to do with how the government implements the laws.

“Part of the problem is the lack of enforcement of our laws on the environment. And this lack of enforcement can be traced to the failure of, among others, of the local governments to enforce relevant laws,” said the chairman.

Puno authored the rules on procedures for environmental cases or the writ of kalikasan during his stint as chief justice.

He sees another opportunity on how to better enforce environmental laws now that he chairs the Consultative Committee to revise the 1987 Constitution.

This time, his committee proposed to include environmental rights in the new Constitution.

It will be treated as a basic right of every Filipino.

“We will be empowering the citizenry, the people, to demand from the State, its agencies including its constituent units, to enforce these laws on environment and correspondingly, to hold them accountable for their failure to implement these relevant laws,” said Puno.

These include the right to clean air and water; the right to be protected from activities that destroy the environment; and the right to be compensated for such.

Other countries such as South Africa, Nepal, and Argentina have long included environmental rights in their respective constitutions. — Roderic Mendoza | UNTV News & Rescue

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