Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez believes the image of the military and the police will be put in a more positive light with their new role as protectors of the environment.
Lopez said the country’s security forces play a crucial role in the newly created anti-environmental crime task force led by the DENR which will go after environmental offenders and ensure strict implementation of environmental laws and regulations.
The DENR recently signed a memorandum of agreement with other key government agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, for the creation of the task force called “A-TEAM Kalikasan.”
Lopez said their new role in environmental protection will help erase the bad image of soldiers and policemen as bodyguards of influential politicians and businessmen and make them guardians of the nation's wealth and the environment.
“The (military and the police) were being used as bodyguards for big business interests. I want to shift that and work together with them, to work with the farmers, to work with the indigenous people, because my experience with the military has been only very good and we need to shape that,” Lopez said.
“I think of we do that and we all work together with the civil society, I don’t see why we can't make a difference, added Lopez as she sees the military and the police as partners in development,” she added.
Other parties to the MOA are the Department of National Defense, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Transportation, and the Philippine Coast Guard.
The task force aims to respond to the clamor for social justice, especially among the indigenous peoples who complain about land grabbing and the negative impacts of mining and illegal logging to the environment and their livelihoods.