The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Eastern Visayas is speeding-up resolutions of land cases in the region.

According to its Legal Division, DENR 8 has gained from the implementation of the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedure implemented by the office pursuant to Republic Act 9285 or the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004 and Executive Order 523, Instituting the Use of ADR in the Executive Department of the Government.

Report from the DENR 8 reveals that in 2019, there were 116 land cases resolved by the office. Of these, 82 were resolved by the field offices and 34 by the regional office.

“Most of these cases were handled by DENR Alternative Dispute Resolution Officers (ADROs) accredited by the office after rigorous training and examinations”, says Atty. Mel Jun A. Diasanta, Officer-in-charge of the DENR Legal Division.

“Without going through the tedious process of litigation, land disputes may now be settled through arbitration, mediation, or negotiation. The procedure is faster and entails lesser cost”, Atty. Diasanta said.

“What’s more gratifying with mediation through the ADR procedure is that relationships, especially involving family and friends, destroyed by land disputes are rebuilt”, Atty. Diasanta adds. 

The ADR became operational at the DENR in December 2016 with the issuance of DENR Administrative Order 2016-30 calling for the establishment of mechanisms and tools for ADR in the disposition of land claims and conflicts, the organization of a pool of ADROs, and the creation of a committee and secretariat tasked to implement the ADR process.

To further beef-up enforcement of environmental laws, DENR 8 has also hired lawyers to handle legal concerns in the field offices. These lawyers are hired on a Contractual status for the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENROs) and the implementing PENROs pursuant to DENR Memorandum 2019-385.

Said Memorandum on the hiring of lawyers dated May 2, 2019 signed by Atty. Ernesto D. Adobo Jr. cites DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s statement, “I have made it my priority to have lawyers assist in the law enforcement functions of the DENR’s provincial and community field offices rendering frontline services”.

Meanwhile, DENR Regional Executive Director Tirso P. Parian, Jr. who vows to be persistent in filing cases against violators of environmental laws says “we will continue to protect our environment and natural resources from exploitation and make sure that cases will be filed against perpetrators”.