NWRB slaps softdrinks company with P11.8M penalty

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB) has slapped softdrinks manufacturer Pepsi Cola Products Philippines, Inc. (PCPPI) a penalty totalling PhP11.8 million for operating six deepwells in its plant in Muntinlupa City without appropriate permit from the agency. NWRB is an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In an order, dated April 19, 2018, the company was initially ordered to pay a penalty amounting to PhP11.58 million. However, this has increased to PhP11.8 million as it was only on June 11 that operatives of NWRB, with support from Task Force DENR Enforcers Metro Manila and the Philippine National Police, were able to enter the company’s premises and successfully sealed the illegal deepwells.

Atty. Archie Asuncion, head of NWRB’s Litigation and Adjudication Unit, said that the penalty imposed on PCPPI was set at P1,000.00 per day per source (deepwell), reckoned from January 10, 2013 up to June 11, 2018.

It will be recalled that on June 11, 2018, operatives from NWRB, DENR and PNP raided the softdrinks plant in Muntinlupa to enforce a Supreme Court decision G.R. No. 22166 entitled Pepsi Cola Products Philippines, Inc. vs. National Water Resources Board, which has become final and executory on April 17, 2017.

The raid and sealing of PCPPI deepwells were done on orders of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, through Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny Antiporda.

NWRB, the agency that monitors and regulates the use of all water resources, said the sealing of illegal deepwells is done to lessen the depletion of groundwater resources in the country.

“The sealing was done after the raiding team disconnected the riser and submersible pumps of the deepwells from the power supply and computer box,” Antiporda said.

Citing a 2004 study commissioned by the NWRB, Antiporda said the groundwater in the area was already “critical,” and its extraction has been causing land subsidence. ### 

PH signs regional pact for forest cooperation in Seoul

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has signed on behalf of the Philippine government a framework regional agreement seeking to strengthen cooperation for the conservation and sustainable management of forests in Asia.

The Asian Forest Cooperation Organization (AFoCO) Agreement was among the many accords signed by the Philippines during President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent three-day official visit to Seoul, South Korea.

Cimatu expressed hope the agreement, which was earlier signed by 10 other Asian countries, will provide mutual benefits to all parties in terms of forest conservation and sustainable management.

“With the Philippines signing the agreement, this seals our participation and commitment for the stronger regional cooperation towards the sustainable management of forests across Asia,” Cimatu said in his speech during the signing of the AFoCO Agreement by the Philippines on June 4.

“I fervently hope that our ties will be greater, as these from the start are founded from mutual trust and respect, mutual understanding and mutual benefits,” he added.

AFoCO is an intergovernmental organization in Asia aiming to strengthen regional forest cooperation by transforming proven technology and policies into concrete actions in the context of sustainable forest management to address the impact of climate change.

As the initial phase of AFoCO, a cooperation mechanism of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations-Republic of Korea Forest Cooperation was formalized by the Agreement signed during the 14th ASEAN-ROK Summit in Bali, Indonesia, in 2011. The Seoul-based ASEAN-ROK Forest Cooperation has been operational since 2012.

AFoCO facilitates forest cooperation between ASEAN countries and ROK focusing on action-oriented field activities while ensuring synergies and complementation of existing cooperation, regional and international organizations.

Of the 11 Asian countries that have signed the agreement, five have already submitted their ratification and depositary. This brought the agreement into force on April 27.

Aside from the Philippines and South Korea, other Asian nations that signed the forest cooperation agreement are Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Bhutan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Brunei Darussalam, Myanmar, Mongolia and Laos. ### 

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