II. MECHANISMS FOR INTEGRATING ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS INTO OVERALL ECONOMIC POLICIES
D. Strengths and weaknesses of current mechanisms
2. Links for coordination among institutions
Historically, environmental concerns have been perceived as the sole responsibility of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Such a perception must, presumably, have been the result of a conceptual flaw which treated environment as a distinct "sector", rather than as a concern that permeates all sectors of society. Such failure to recognize the interrelationship of environmental concerns across all sectors of society has placed the Department of Environment and Natural Resources at the centre of managing the environment and, in the process, alienated other government agencies which have become indifferent and susceptible to the type of compromise that has led to the destruction of resources in their respective sectors. Further, notwithstanding the existence of an interagency planning body, the system has been largely fragmented among various agencies. For example, planning for the use of land resources is spread across the jurisdictions of at least four agencies: the Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Environment and Natural Resources. That situation can perhaps be attributed to the fact that land, as a resource, has many uses. It is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture because of its use for food production, while the Department of Trade and Industry is involved for commercial and industrial reasons; the Department of Environment and Natural Resources involvement is more in connection with public land.
Thus, the mandates of the different agencies may warrant taking a more holistic view of land as a productive and environmental resource. The National Land-Use Committee, an interagency body under NEDA, could be considered as the appropriate body for undertaking inter-jurisdictional decision-making, but the existence of such divergent interests makes cooperative decision-making more difficult to achieve.
The challenge confronting the planning system at present, therefore, is to clarify and streamline the links for coordination among the agencies in order to guide their actions towards a more concerted effort at managing resources and the environment. In that connection, the Philippine Agenda 21 (which is expected to be integrated into the national Development Plan) advocates an ecosystem or area-based approach rather than the traditional sector-based strategy in development planning. The area-based approach is considered to be capable of addressing the preservation of environmental integrity of an ecosystem that is often compromised by the diversity of sectors competing for the use of resources within that same ecosystem.