Press Release
February 16, 2011


Proposed bill to give protection and benefits to "green" workers, volunteers, cops, soldiers and lawyers

Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, chairman of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, today vowed to fast track the approval of Senate Bill 2550 or the Magna Carta for Environment Workers. He made the call after receiving overwhelming support from various government agencies, NGOs, LGUs and the academe in yesterday's public hearing on the proposed measure.

"The lives of our comrades and environmental workers are often in danger. We know what had happened to our environmental workers like botanist Dr. Leonard Co and broadcaster Jerry Ortega very recently, and this has been happening around the country. We are in dire need of a law that will protect and promote the welfare of our environmental workers and we'd like to expand this to cover non-government workers, volunteers, cops, soldiers and lawyers," Zubiri said.

In his presentation before the Senate Environment and Natural Resource Committee, DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said that more than 120 government environmental workers had been killed in line of duty since 1987 and "the department had lost about seven personnel from July 2010 to present or an equivalent of losing a guy every month."

DENR cited the following incidents that led to the death of environmental workers:




June 14, 2010 Davao Oriental, Manay Jessie Camangyan, radio broadcaster killed for vigilance vs illegal logging
July 9, 2010 Apayao, Luna Kennedy Bayani, DENR forest ranger slain thru gunfire
August 21, 2010 San Agustin, Surigao Del Sur Christopher Mazo, police inspector allegedly killed by a sniper NPA
October 29, 2010 Bislig, Surigao del Sur Nelson Luna, Bantay Gubat slain thru gunfire
December 6, 2010 Lianga, Surigao del Sur Rolando Sinday, DENR tree marker slain thru gunfire
January 13, 2011 Bislig, Surigao del Sur Jacinto Dragas, DENR forest ranger

"We are already considered threatened species. We fully support the proposal of Senator Zubiri and we'd like to ask that funds be given to provide legal assistance too for our workers who have been harassed by legal suits by organized syndicates who are out there to do harm on our environment," National Council President Rene De Rueda of the Society of Filipino Foresters appealed before the Senate committee.

For his part, Zubiri expressed his commitment to push for the immediate passage of the bill saying that "it is high time that we provide protection, benefits and recognition to our green army, volunteers, cops, soldiers and lawyers who are tasked to protect, preserve and maintain the quality of the environment and natural resources of the country."

Senate Bill 2550 or the Magna Carta for Environment and Natural Resources Personnel aims 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. It further seeks to develop their skills and capabilities in order that they will be more responsive and better equipped to deliver environmental management functions and it also offer benefits for them to remain in government service.

Under the proposed bill, protection and benefits shall be given to the personnel of DENR, its Bureaus, Regional Officers, 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 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.

Aside from these, environmental workers will also get highest basic salary upon retirement, higher insurance premium and increase medical examination package.

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