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Know the laws: report crimes against the environment!

Forestry law

PD 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippipes states that all lands with slope that is 18 percent or above is considered government-owned land.

The following activities are considered crimes or administrative violations:

· Clearcutting (PD 705, Sec. 22a).

· Cutting, gathering or trading of forest products, e.g., timber, rattan, orchids, etc., without a permit (PD 705, Sec. 633.

· Cutting trees with permit but failing subsequently to reforest or replant (PD 705, Sec. 37).

· Harvesting and trading of undersized logs and seed trees (PD 805, Sec. 25).

· Exportation of flitches and squared logs (AO No. 7 Series 1987).

· Hunting of animals or cutting and destroying of trees or plants within national parks, watershed areas and similar reservations (PD 705 Secs. 71 and 72).

· Use of forest lands, grazing lands and alienable and disposable lands that have not yet been disposed by the government (PD 705 Sec. 70).

· Cutting, injuring or destroying plants, shrubs or trees along public roads, in plazas, parks, schools and other public grdunds, except as demanded by public safety and when the pruning enhances its beauty (RA 3571)

· Harvesting of banned tree species like almaciga (AO No. 74 Series 1987), tindalo, akle or molave (ACT No. 3572).

· Collection and trade of endangered species such as the pawikan, Philippine Crocodile, etc., without proper permit from the DENR or DA.

RA 3571 aims to:

· promote and conserve the beauty of objects of scenic and ornamental values along public places; and,

· help preserve cool, fresh and healthful climate.

The cutting, injuring, destroying or pruning shall only be legal when approved by the Director of Parks and Wildlife.

Fisheries law

The governing law is PD 704 or the Fisheries Decree of 1975. Violations include the following:

· Use of destructive fishing methods like hand-made or manufactured dynamite fishing (PD 704, Sec.3 1); cyanide fishing or the use of other poisonous chemicals (PD 704, Sec. 33); muro-ami and kayakas (Fishery Administrative Order or FAO 163); hulbot-hulbot (FAO 164); pantakos (FAO 122) and trawl fishing (PD 704, Sec.35) and the sale or possession of fish or any aquatic product that has been illegally caught. (PD 705 and PD 1053).

· Trawl-fishing by commercial boats or vessels of more than three gross tons in waters within a distance of seven kms from the shoreline or waters of seven fathoms or 42 ft deep. (PD 1015 Sec. 2; LOI 1328; FAO 156 Series of 1986).

· Exportation of any corals in raw form; gathering of precious or semi-precious corals without permit; or of ordinary corals (reef-builders) even with a permit. (PD 1219; PD 1698).

· Taking, selling, transporting of mollusks and marine turtles (CITES).

· Use of fine mesh nets with size of less than three cm. measured between two separate knots of a full mesh when stretched (PD 704 Sec. 34 and FAO 155 Series of 1986).

· Exportation of bangus fry (PD 704, Sec. 36).

· Exportation of live prawns of any size (FAO 143).

· Catching, selling, possessing and transporting of sabalo or bangus measuring 60 cms or more (FAO 129, 129-1, 129-2).

· Discharge of any factory refuse or any substance or material that is harmful to aquatic or marine life (PD 704, Sec. 37, 1975).

· Clear cutting of mangrove swamps bordering islands and used to protect the shoreline, roads and coastal communities (PD 705, Sec. 43).

Presidential Decree No. 1219, as amended by PD 1698, states that it is illegal to:

· Gather, harvest, collect, or export ordinary corals.

· Export precious and semi-precious corals, unless these corals are processed and manufactured into finished products in the Philippines.

The above mentioned kinds of corals are defined by PD 1219, as follows:

· Precious corals are represented by red, pink and white corals.

Sec. 3b[i]. Precious corals-skeleton of Anthozoan coelenterate characterized as having a rigid axis of compact alcareous or horny spicules, belonging to the genus corralium as represented by the red, pink and white corals.

· Semi-precious corals are represented by black corals.

Sec. 3b[ii] Semi-precious coral - skeleton of Anthozoan coelenterate characterized by a thorny, horny axis, such as the Antipartharians as represented by the black corals.

· Ordinary corals are those corals which are neither precious nor semi-precious.

Reasons for the law

· Precious and semi-precious corals are allowed to be exported so long as they are processed within the Philippines because the exploitation of these corals can help generate employment and more revenues for the country.

· Ordinary corals are not to be touched because coral reefs serve as haven for fishes and other marine life forms. Coral reefs provide, among others, protection and food to said animals. It is also in coral reefs where fishes lay. their eggs. On the tourism side, coral reefs enhance the beauty of the Philippine underwater; thus, enabling the country to lure a number of tourist, particularly divers.

Pollution law

Presidential Decree No. 1152 (Philippine Environment Code) provides in Sec. 49, that the dumping or disposal of solid wastes into the sea and any body of water in the Philippines, including shorelines and river banks, where the wastes are likely to be washed into the water, is prohibited. Wastes pose immediate or imminent danger to life and property.

According to Sec. 45 of the same PD, solid waste disposal shall be by sanitary landfill, incineration, composting and other methods as may be approved by competent government authority.

Reasons for the prohibition include the following:

· Garbage dirties the water, killing the life forms that thrive therein.

· Garbage causes the water to appear and smell obnoxious, like the Pasig River.

· The garbage you throw will ultimately affect you.

Actions considered violations of the pollution law:

· Emission by industrial establishments (factories, poultry farms, piggeries, power plants, manufacturing firms, etc.) of substances containing dusts, chemicals, smoke and other toxic materials in harmful quantities as defined by law (PD 984, Sec. 3).

· Dumping of untreated mine tailings in critical areas, e.g., navigable rivers and waterways (PD 1067 Art, 91)

· Dumping of untreated domestic waste and garbage along any shore and banks of rivers, streams and lakes in violation of existing zoning, housing and pollution-control regulations (PD 1152, Sec. 46-43)..

· Sale, use and disposal of toxic and hazardous chemicals as well as banned fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides (PD 1144, Sec. 7).

· Smoke belching by motor vehicles (PD I 131, Sec. 3,4 and 5) and operating without an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) by industries (PD I 151 Sec. 4; PD 1536, Sec. 2 and 43 are administrative violations where the liability of the violatoris an administrative fine or cancellation of license or closure of establishment.

Reporting crimes against the environment

Reporting crimes against the environment

Where to report violations of environmental laws

· Barangay-through the chairman or other officers

· Municipality-through the mayor, any member of the Sangguniang Bayan or Panglunsod, as the case may be, or any other concerned local government officer

· Field offices of government agencies tasked to enforce the violated environmental laws

· Nongovernment organizations (NGOs) concerned with the protection and conservation of the environment

· Other nonconventional ways of reporting:

- through school principals and/or teachers;
- through parents and/or elders; and,
- through the media-television, radio, newspaper.

Important reminders for everyone

· Know the proper government agencies.


Department of Agriculture and its field offices for violation of fisheries laws.

Bureau of Forest Development (BFD) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for violation of forestry laws.

Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau of the DENR for violation in the collection, utilization and management of wild flora and fauna.

· Know the specific persons in the community, school or organizations who are active and dedicated supporters of environmental protection and conservation to ensure that their reporting would not be futile.

· Be encouraged to report and act as witnesses. Request government and nongovernment officers to brief the people on their different environmental protection programs. Be aware that everyone must work hand-in-hand with the government to achieve a full-proof effort.

· Learn to follow up with the persons/offices the violations that have been reported to. Each agency has different processes of follow-up.