DENR to shut down over 50 illegal dumpsites by December

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will shut down over 50 illegal dumpsites across the country before the end of the year, Secretary Roy A. Cimatu disclosed on Friday.

"We target to close down more than 50 illegal dumpsites by December as part of our intensified enforcement of Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000," Cimatu said.

Cimatu issued the statement following the DENR's decision to deny the request of the Quezon City government to reopen the Payatas sanitary landfill until December this year, citing serious environmental violations and susceptibility to trash slide.

The DENR secretary lamented that a lot of local government units (LGUs) still maintain open dumpsites, which are prohibited under RA 9003.

Aside from closing down the dumpsites, the former Armed Forces chief said the DENR will also press charges against LGU executives who allow the continued operation of open dumpsites in their localities.

"RA 9003 gives prime importance to the roles of LGUs in managing solid wastes. They are primarily responsible for the law's implementation, not the DENR," Cimatu said.

"The DENR's role is limited to monitoring the compliance of LGUs with the law," he pointed out.

Cimatu said the DENR will shut down all open dumpsites that pose serious public health threats and adverse environmental impacts.

He said the agency plans to close a total of 500 illegal dumpsites before the term of President Rodrigo Duterte ends in 2022.

"All our decisions at the DENR are taken with focus on the protection of the environment and the welfare of the general public," Cimatu assured.

RA 9003 specifically mandates all, especially LGUs, to adopt a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program that would ensure the protection of public health and environment.
It directs LGUs to utilize environmentally sound methods; set targets and guidelines for solid waste avoidance and reduction; and ensure proper segregation, collection, transport and storage of solid waste; among others. ### 

DENR alerts workers vs phone scammers

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has alerted all its regional offices, line bureaus and attached agencies to be on the lookout for a new phone scam targeting DENR employees.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said that DENR workers have been targeted by phone scammers posing as senior executives of the agency to collect money for charity.

The DENR chief advised the employees to "hang up immediately" once they receive such kind of call, which in the first place is a violation of Republic Act No. 6713 or the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees.

"Preventing fraud can be difficult, but it does help if there's awareness so we can avoid falling for these scams," Cimatu said.

On Cimatu's orders, DENR Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr. issued a memorandum directing all DENR officials and employees in the central and field offices "to be more vigilant in all our transactions."

The memo also covers DENR line bureaus and attached agencies, including the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA), the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority, the National Water Resource Board, and the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development.

The directive was an offshoot of a recent incident involving a phone call supposedly made by former DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio to the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) of Marinduque province.

PENRO Imelda Diaz claimed she received a call from someone who introduced himself as Usec. Ignacio asking her to donate at least P60,000 for victims of the magnitude 6.7 earthquake that struck Surigao del Norte province last February.

The caller, she said, instructed her to course the donation through a church-based non-government organization in Quezon City by sending the money via a remittance service center in Boac town.

"His voice was exactly like Usec. Ignacio's, including the manner of speaking. It was unmistakably UDLI's (Ignacio's initials)," Diaz said.

The transaction did not push through after Diaz phoned Ignacio, who denied making such call.

According to Diaz, other field officers in the Mimaropa region also received similar scam calls, such as PENROs Maximo Landrito of Romblon and Mary June Maypa of Mindoro Oriental.

She said Palawan PENRO Felizardo Cayato was also targeted by the scam, although the fraudster who called him posed as former DENR Undersecretary Marlo Mendoza.

This is the first the DENR encountered a scam that targets employees of the agency as scammers usually victimize DENR clients, especially those seeking permits.

Last January, the DENR also warned the public against fraudsters offering fishpen operators exemption from the clearing operations in Laguna Lake, claiming they were "well-connected" to DENR and LLDA executives. ### 

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