Puerto Princesa approves creation of own environment council

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Nov. 10 (PNA) - The City Council of Puerto Princesa has approved the passing of an ordinance that will create the Puerto Princesa City Council for Sustainable Development (PPCCSD) which would function as a multi-sectoral and inter-disciplinary body to govern, implement and provide policy direction on sustainable development just like the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) of the province.

City Councilor Jonjie Rodriguez said as a highly-urbanized city (HUC), which is now “independent of governance” from the provincial government of Palawan, “it is about time that Puerto Princesa creates its environment council to take care of its sustainable environment concerns.”

“It is only proper that since we’re now a highly-urbanized city, we should now have our own environmental council,” Rodriguez said, adding the ordinance was finally approved on October 18, 2010 by the Puerto Princesa City Council.

Rodriguez said “with due respect to the PCSD”, he authored the ordinance on the belief that as an HUC, Puerto Princesa now has to manage the welfare of its own environment.

Before it was declared a highly-urbanized city, the mayor of Puerto Princesa sits as a member of the PCSD, which was created under the Office of the President, Malacañang through Republic Act 7611, otherwise known as the Strategic Environmental Plan for Palawan (SEP).

As landmark legislation for the province, the SEP now has multi-sectoral efforts in implementing sustainable agenda to sustainably protect the unique ecological system in Palawan that its authors believe can never be found anywhere else in the world.

It acts as a policy-making body in terms of implementing environment laws, endorsing permits to businesses that consider the safety of the environment around their areas of operation, as well as implement programs and projects that are important to the safekeeping of the province’s environment.

With the ordinance creating its very own environment council, the city government is expected to also take care of its fiscal and financial needs, and to lead the creation of the multi-sectoral body, with the end view that residents of Puerto Princesa will give it utmost support.

Admitting that the ordinance is not as simple as it is, Rodriguez said the PPCCSD will only begin its functions and responsibilities as soon as amendments have been placed on the SEP law by the House of Representatives regarding Puerto Princesa’s current membership in the PCSD.

“Yes, we agreed in the city council that the ordinance will only be put to work as soon as amendments have been done on the SEP law. Right now, we’re still a member of the PCSD,” he said, adding the ordinance needs the help of House representatives Dennis Socrates, Antonio Alvarez, and party list representative Ponciano Payuyo the APEC.

He said it also needs the endorsement of President Benigno Aquino III, whose office in Malacañang, has already been sent a copy.

“I hope the ordinance gets there support because it is rather awkward that as a highly-urbanized city independent of provincial government ordinance, the PCSD still gets busy minding the approval of endorsements of investments in the city that have something to do with the environment. Besides, the representatives of the city to the PCSD no longer has jurisdiction there because they are from a HUC,” he added.

The proposed chairman of the PPCCSD will be the mayor, and the vice mayor will sit as co-chairman. In this case, once set up, Mayor Edward S. Hagedorn will be its chairman, equivalent to the position Palawan Governor Abraham Kahlil B. Mitra is occupying in the PCSD.

Its other member will also be the City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), and will have representatives from the civic society and the private sector. (PNA)
LAP/CARF/mec