PH to host ASEAN Mangrove Congress anew

The Philippines will be hosting a regional conference aimed at strengthening Southeast Asia's technical and institutional capacities toward sustainable mangrove management in the face of climate change.

Slated for September 5 to 8, the second ASEAN Mangrove Congress is organized by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is expected to keynote the five-day conference with the theme: "Sustainable Management of Mangroves in the Course of Climate Change."

This would be the second time the Philippines is hosting the event. The first ASEAN Mangrove Congress was also held in the country in December 2012 and was attended by 81 participants from Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, the Philippines, and ASEAN development partner United States.

The upcoming conference will gather mangrove practitioners, government officials, scientists, and academicians who conducted research on mangroves in the ASEAN region.

It aims to update member countries and other participants on the latest research and development on mangrove resource and to enhance public awareness on the current pressing issues, impacts and threats on mangrove habitats, particularly climate change.

The conference also seeks to promote the exchange of in-depth learning and good practices among ASEAN participants and to dialogue with development partners.

During the conference, ministerial representatives from Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and the Philippines will present the reports on the status of mangrove management in their respective nations.

There will also be plenary talks on Mangrove Ecology, Functions and Fisheries; Mangrove Restoration and Rehabilitation; Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation and Socio-Economic and Valuation Studies. A workshop dubbed as “One ASEAN, One Mangrove” will also be conducted.

The delegates will also participate in an eco-tour, lecture and mangrove planting activity in Triboa Mangrove Park in Subic, Zambales. ###


DENR seeks higher fines for environmental offenders

Illegal loggers, polluters and wildlife poachers and smugglers may soon be facing heavier penalties once the proposal to raise fines for environmental crimes becomes a state policy.

This, as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started the process of finding ways to determine the monetary value of lost environmental goods and services as a result of an environmental crime.

In line with this, the agency is hosting a two-day consultation workshop called "Ecosystem Resource Valuation in Support to Environmental Law Enforcement" starting today until tomorrow in Quezon City.

Close to 100 environment and law enforcement authorities will gather at the event to craft a blueprint on how ecological damage assessment values can be used by the courts as a measure of liability in determining the fines and penalties to be slapped against environmental offenders.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed optimism that the effort would "provide the much-needed policy reforms to bridge the gap between achieving environmental justice and enforcement of environmental laws."

"It is imperative to impose higher fines for the commission of any violation against the country’s environmental laws if we are to really curb offenses like indiscriminate disposal of garbage, illegal logging, wildlife poaching and smuggling, to name a few,” Cimatu said.
Cimatu noted that the consultation workshop is a step foward to having a full accounting of environmental damage as it would provide a mechanism for the determination of accurate compensation cost for the damage resulting from an environmental offense.

“At present, damage from environmental crime cannot be fully accounted for as we have yet to develop a mechanism that would determine the full compensation cost for the damage made," Cimatu pointed out.

He said whatever the outcome of the activity will surely be a huge contribution to the DENR's conduct of natural resources damage assessment, especially in the cost-benefit analysis of health, safety and environmental issues.

Among the considerations that will play a major part in framing the mechanism are the cost at which the resource would actually sell in the market place at the time when the offense was commited and the cost of restoring, rehabilitating or replacing the affected resource.

Under the Revised Penal Code, an offender in a criminal case can likewise be held liable for civil liabilities which include restitution, reparation of damages caused and indemnification for consequential damages.

Aside from heads of DENR field law enforcement units, operatives from other law enforcement organizations will take part in the workshop, such as the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard, and the Philippine National Police-Maritime Group.

Other participants include representatives from the Leagues of Provinces, Cities, and Municipalities.

Experts from the United States Department of the Interior and the United States Agency for International Development will facilitate the workshop.

Among the topics to be discussed are “Determining the State of Philippine Policies on Ecosystem Resource Valuation,” “Biological and Economic Modules on Determining Damage in Relation to Environmental Crimes with Case Studies,” and “Determining Appropriate Ecosystems Resource Valuation Policies for the Philippines.” ### 

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