Sunday, March 4, 2012

Lawyers hail ex-CJ Puno's appointment on TF Watershed

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno (2nd from left) with Grace Padaca, former governor of Isabela, and employees of the MWSS led by Adminitrator Gerry Esquivel (4th from left).

MALOLOS CITY—Lawyers and environment advocates in Bulacan hailed recent appointment of former Chief Justice Reynato Puno as legal advisor to Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System’s ((MWSS) newly formed Task Force Five Watersheds (TF5W).

Lawyer Ted Villanueva, chair of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Bulacan chapter said Puno’s appointment is timely.

“It came at a very opportune time when natural disasters are hitting different part so the country,” he said.

Villanueva said the country must not wait for another disaster to happen saying that Puno’s appointment is both active and proactive move.

“We really need to prepare, and the former chief justice new job is a preparation in itself,” he said.

Last week, Puno formally accepted the job as legal advisor to MWSS-TF5W that will initiate the Integrated Watershed Management System (IWMS).

A volunteer job, Puno will get P1 a year salary in establishing a legal framework for the implementation of the IWMS.

“Its about that we have a consolidated law on watershed management, and I agree with the former chief justice because there are overlaps in the laws and some parts of it are archaic already,” said Villanueva who is now actively pushing for the conduct of an environment summit in Bulacan by June this year.

Puno’s appointment was also welcome by Bro. Martin Francisco, the chair of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society (SSMES); Lawyer Rustico De Belen, head of the Bulacan Environment and Natural Resources Office (BENRO); and Mendel Garcia, the head of the Angat Watershed Area Team (AWAT).

Francisco cited Puno’s accomplishments as Chief Justice including the issuance of the Writ of Kalikasan, and the creation of green court that hears environment related cases.

For his part, De Belen said that Puno is “a true advocate of environmental justice.”

“His court is known for its noble and selfless efforts to protect the environment,” De Belen said.

The former chief justice appointment also open new hopes for Garcia of the AWAT.

He said that Puno should also visit the Angat Dam Watershed which supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s potable water needs.

The Angat Dam Watershed is one of the five watersheds that Puno and members of the TF5W is aiming to protect.

The others are the Umiray Watershed, La Mesa Watershed, Ipo Watershed and the Marikina Watershed.

In an interview last week, Puno said that protection of all five watersheds is critical as far as securing potable water supply for Metro manila is concerned.

He said that water is now a national concern and the Aquino administration do not want a repeat of water rationing incidents in Metro Manila in the past years.  (Dino Balabo)