Press Release
March 2, 2011

Seeks the immediate approval of Magna Carta for Environment Workers

Senator Juan Miguel "Migz" Zubiri, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, today expressed concern over the alarming rate of killings involving environmental workers following the death of an environment official in Samar reportedly due to timber poaching.

According to news reports, Pierre Gillo, 51, officer in charge of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) in Sta. Rita, Samar, was shot dead by unidentified assailants on a motorcycle last Feb. 25 outside his house in V&G Subdivision in Tacloban City. Authorities believed that Gillo was killed due to his campaign against illegal logging activity in Santa Rita, some 40 km away from the Tacloban City.

"I condemn the barbaric death of a comrade and environmentalist, Pierre Gillo. Now more than ever, we need to intensify our campaign against illegal logging operation in the country. We need to protect our green army, our environmental officers on the ground, who are helpless against big time logging operators and criminals," Zubiri warned.

According to latest statistics from DENR, more than 120 government environmental workers had been killed in the line of duty since 1987 and DENR Ramon Paje said "the department had lost about eight personnel from July 2010 to present or an equivalent of losing a guy every month."

For his part, Zubiri expressed his commitment to push for the immediate passage of the Magna Carta for Environment Workers 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."

"The task to protect our natural resources is not a walk in the park. Our foresters, park rangers, cops, soldiers, lawyers and environment officers urgently need this bill to ensure their safety and to promote their welfare. I am appealing to my colleagues, let us work together now and pass this," the Bukidnon solon stressed.

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.

"Let us hasten the investigation, form a task force for environmental killings alone and apprehend the perpetrators the soonest possible time and let us recognize the role of our environmental workers who continue to put their lives at great risk by passing the Magna Carta for Environmental Workers," Zubiri said.

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