Press Release
February 4, 2013

Senate approves Environmental Planning Act of 2013

The Senate today approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to amend Presidential Decree No. 1308, the existing Environmental Planning Law in the country, in order to make the law more in tune with recent developments in the field of environmental planning. Senate Bill No. 3138, also known as the Environmental Planning Act of 2013, is co-sponsored by Senators Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, and Antonio Trillanes IV, chair of the Senate Committee on Civil Service and Government Reorganization.

While SBN 3138 retained the objectives of the PD 1308--which is to promote and maintain technically competent and responsible professional environmental planners whose standards of practice and service are globally competitive, the approval of the new bill, according to Trillanes, will not only provide for a more comprehensive definition of the practice of environmental planning but also update existing rules and regulations on the registration, licensing and practice of the profession.

"Approval of the measure allows us to be in tune with modern techniques by imposing mandatory continuing education on our environmental planners, enabling us to conform to more updated and globally accepted environmental planning methods," Trillanes said.

The bill also provides for a foreign reciprocity policy which would enable foreign environmental planners to practice in the country, provided that their countries of origin provide the same privilege to Filipino environmental planners, Trillanes said.

It also mandates the Civil Service Commission to create positions and set qualification standards for environmental planners at various levels in the government service, including government owned and controlled corporations.

Legarda, an author of the measure, called the approval timely since rural development and urban planning have become more critical in the recent past.

"We have witnessed whole villages being swept away by enormous floods and various infrastructure crumbling during strong earthquakes. Passage of this bill will allow us to establish much needed safeguards and benchmarks as regards registration, licensing, education and scope of work of our environmental planners, which will in turn boost their competence in the local and international arena," Legarda said.

Meanwhile, a bill seeking to establish Philippine Standard Time (PST) in all official sources in the country was also approved on final reading. Senate Bill No. 3284, authored by Senators Trillanes, Edgardo Angara, and Miriam Defensor Santiago, also declares the first week of every year as national time consciousness week.

The Senate also approved on third reading SBN 3376, or an Act declaring December of every year as Anti-Corruption Month, requiring all heads of government agencies and instrumentalities, including government-owned and controlled corporations as well as local government units and employers in the private sector, to conduct activities designed to create awareness among the people on the adverse effects of corruption.

SBN 3381, an Act converting the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) into a government-owned and-controlled hospital corporation and integrating the San Joaquin Municipal Hospital into the WVMC was also approved on third and final reading.

Likewise, House Bill No. 4989 was approved on third and final reading. The measure seeks to increase the plantilla positions of the West Visayas State University, which is assigned to staff the West Visayas State Medical Center.

Trillanes, who sponsored the measure, said the increase in medical staff is needed to meet the hospital's 300 bed capacity requirement so it can effectively treat patients in the area.

Other bills passed on third reading include House Bill No. 5763, an Act naming the Mountain Province police provincial office in the capital town of Bontoc, mountain Province to Camp Lt. Geronimo F. Montes; HBN 4659, naming the Police Regional Office 11 at Sitio Catitipan, Barangay Communal, Buhangin District, Davao City as Camp Quintin M. Mercido; HBN 2961, converting the Land Transportation Office (LTO) located in San Simon, Pampanga into a regular LTO district office; HBN 4253, an Act Renaming the Palawan Police Provincial Office to Camp Higinio Acosta Mendoza Sr.; HBN 2140, an Act declaring Kalinga in the Cordillera Region as a tourism development area; HBN 2141, an Act declaring Davao Oriental as a tourism development area and HBN 3877, an Act declaring Nov. 27 as Araw ng Pagbasa, a special working holiday. (YVONNE ALMIRANEZ, PRIB)

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