ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS. Environmental groups are calling for a stronger and proactive stand on laws related to the environment -- with some issues they now describe as "urgent". An environmental forum is scheduled on Saturday and is open to the public to tackle issues such as the ongoing reclamation project off Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete City. (Photo by Judy Flores Partlow)

DUMAGUETE CITY -- Environmental groups in Dumaguete City and the province of Negros Oriental are clamoring for a more proactive and firm stand among communities, with regard to reclamation projects and other issues related to the environment.

This, as environmental groups War on Waste (WOW), Kinaiyahan, Inc., and Friends of the Environment in Negros Oriental (FENOr) are spearheading an environmental forum on Saturday as an “urgent call” to the public to have deeper understanding of the country’s laws on the environment, said Merci Ferrer, WOW-Negros Oriental co-convenor, in an interview Monday.

The topics to be discussed include environmental laws such as Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Republic Act 9275 or The Clean Water Act, Republic Act 8749 or The Clean Air Act, among others, she said.

Specifically, the forum aims to talk about the reclamation projects in nearby Siquijor province and the portion of the Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete City, which is being undertaken by the local government unit.

Ferrer described the Siquijor reclamation projects as “alarming” although she could not give detailed information on it, saying it was one of the forum’s speakers, lawyer Gloria Estenzo Ramos, who will be discussing these thoroughly in her talk.

Ramos is the vice president of Oceana Philippines, and she will be speaking on “Urgent Environmental Laws and People’s Rights to Citizens’ Suit”.

The second speaker in the same forum will be Dr. Emmanuel Jorge, president of Environmental and Engineering, a research group based in El Cerrito in California, US on the topic: “Thermal Waste to Energy Incineration and Open Burning.”

Ferrer said the forum is open to the public and they have invited local officials from the city and the province as well to drum up awareness and support for their cause.

She lamented the seemingly quiet and passive response of communities to the environmental issues affecting Dumaguete and Negros Oriental even as she stressed the urgent need for a “call for action” to such concerns. (PNA)