Bohol lawmaker pushes mangrove conservation

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Bohol lawmaker pushes mangrove conservation

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The House Special Committee on Reforestation, now headed by a Bohol representative, targets to accomplish at least three major undertakings before the current term ends.

Third District Rep. Arthur Yap, new chair of the special committee assured to get the three remaining priorities for 16th Congress done.

“First, it aims to pass the National Mangrove Conservation and Rehabilitation Bill into law to ensure the safety of coastal communities against natural disasters,” according to Yap.

The representative of Bohol third district noted that “the country’s experience with Typhoon Yolanda highlighted the important role that mangroves play as natural bio-shields for vulnerable coastal communities”.

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The Special Committee, along with the House Committee on Natural Resources, also plans to enact the Sustainable Forest Management Act (SFMA) which introduces a policy shift  away from forestry as contributor to development to one which emphasizes  forest conservation as a way to adapt to the impacts of climate change, Yap added.

He explained that the SFMA will replace the Revised Forestry Code of 1975 or Presidential Decree 705.

“Lastly, the Special Committee plans to exercise its oversight function over the implementation of the National Greening Program which, to date, has cost the government P7 billion to reforest 1.5 million hectares with 1.5 billion trees from 2011 to 2016,” according to Yap.

Yap started his task as the new chairman of the House Committee on Reforestation as Congress resumed session on May 4.

Yap got the chairmanship on March 18, two days before Congress adjourned on March 20.

On the first day of the resumption of session at the House of Representatives, an initial briefing on the committee’s thrust was made by former committee secretary Rommel Reyes and Committee Affairs Bureau Cluster 2 Director Lina Jones.

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They explained that the special committee on reforestation will attend to all matters directly and principally relating to policies and programs on reforestation including the effects of forest denudation, and other actions to ensure the implementation of a sustained community-based nationwide reforestation program.

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The committee shall also study, deliberate on and act upon all measures referred to them inclusive of bills, resolutions and petitions, and shall recommend for approval or adoption by the House those that, in their judgment, advance the interests and promote the welfare of the people.

Yap also relayed that under the House Rules, Section 26—about the Duties and Functions—provides that “committees shall study, deliberate on and act upon all measures referred to them inclusive of bills, resolutions and petitions, and shall recommend for approval or adoption by the House those that, in their judgment, advance the interests and promote the welfare of the people”.

“The committees shall establish appropriate systems and procedures to ensure that constituencies, sectors and groups whose interests are affected by any pending measure are given sufficient opportunities to be heard,” according the house rules.

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Like other committees, the House Special Committee on Reforestation ”shall pursue dialogues and consultations with affected sectors and constituencies, conduct researches, and engage the services and assistance of experts and professionals from the public or private sectors as may be needed in the performance of their functions”.

Yap assured that the house rules will be observed, including its “oversight responsibilities to determine whether or not laws and programs addressing subjects within their jurisdictions are being implemented and carried out in accordance with the intent of Congress and whether or not they should be continued, curtailed, or eliminated”.

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With these responsibilities, “committees shall review and study on a continuing basis, or upon order of the House: the application, administration, execution, and effectiveness of laws and programs addressing subjects within their respective jurisdictions; the organization and operation of national agencies and entities having responsibilities for the administration and execution of laws and programs addressing subjects within their respective jurisdictions; and any conditions or circumstances that may indicate the necessity or desirability of enacting new or additional legislation addressing subjects within their respective jurisdictions”, as provided in the House Rules.

It is also in the House Rules that “each committee may establish an oversight sub-committee, or require its sub-committees to conduct oversight within their respective jurisdictions, to assist in carrying out its oversight function”.

The Speaker, with the approval of the House, may create ad hoc oversight committees for the purpose of reviewing specific matters within the jurisdictions of more than two committees.

Committees may also, upon a majority vote of all the members, conduct hearings and inquiries on issues and concerns within their respective jurisdictions.

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