Cimatu: Boracay rehab is DENR’s ‘single biggest accomplishment’ in 2018

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu considers the successful rehabilitation of Boracay Island as the “single biggest accomplishment” of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2018.

The DENR, along with several other government agencies, devoted much of its time, effort and resources this year to carry out President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to clean up the world-famous island he once called a “cesspool.”

“What we have done in Boracay could well serve as one of the DENR’s best legacies. May nagawa tayo pero hindi tayo hihinto,” Cimatu told DENR employees during their recent annual gathering.

After seeing the results, Cimatu said that all the efforts poured into by the DENR and other government agencies during the six-month rehabilitation period were worth it.

Cimatu said he hopes to replicate the success of the Boracay rehabilitation in the heavily polluted Manila Bay.

“I am an optimist through and through, I am sure that Manila Bay will be better off in December next year,” Cimatu said.

Earlier, Cimatu said he was keen to have Manila Bay rehabilitated, restored and maintained to a level fit for swimming, skin diving and other contact forms of recreation.

He promised to employ the same strategy used in Boracay to rid Manila Bay of wastes and pollutants.

During the first phase of Boracay rehabilitation, hotels and resorts caught directly pumping out their sewage into the sea were fined and required to put their own sewage treatment facilities.

The Boracay wetlands, which play an important role in absorbing excess rainfall to prevent flooding and are home to native and migratory wildlife, were cleaned and recovered from illegal settlements and structures.

The inter-agency task force, which Cimatu chairs, will continue to rehabilitate Boracay’s ecosystems, which include a variety of native flora and fauna like the critically endangered golden crowned flying fox, molave, bankal, marine turtles, puka shells, mangroves and different species of birds.

The DENR hopes to maintain the sustainable tourism management approach in Boracay, which could serve as a model for other coastal areas in the country and the region. ### 

DENR exceeds 2018 targets for environmental mngt programs

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has exceeded its year-end targets for environmental programs on solid waste management, clean air and clean water, which comprised the top priorities of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu under his term.

The agency’s program on solid waste management topped the list of its major accomplishments in 2018, having exceeded its target for the implementation of rehabilitation and closure plans for open and controlled dumpsites by 22 percent.

Through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the DENR was supposed to monitor only 535 closure and rehabilitation plans of local government units (LGUs) this year, but it ended up monitoring 654 as of November.

It also successfully monitored 919 materials recovery facilities (MRFs), which is around 11 percent higher than the original target of 829 MRFs for 2018. Both the implementation of closure and rehabilitation plans and the establishment of MRFs by LGUs are mandated under Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Also this year, the National Solid Waste Management Commission—an interagency body chaired by the DENR—was able to approve a record 322 solid waste management plans (SWMPs) of LGUs, bringing to 806 the total number of approved SWMPs since the enactment of RA 9003.

The DENR also surpassed its 2018 targets in connection with the implementation of RA 8749, or the Clean Air Act of 1999.

It registered a 102 percent accomplishment in terms of monitoring the compliance of industries to emission standards set by the EMB. A total of 16,117 industries were monitored for their emissions in 2018.

There was also 100 percent accomplishment in the formulation and updating of 22 airshed action plans and maintenance of 98 air quality monitoring stations (AQMS) across the country. Properly maintained AQMS are crucial to the monitoring of air quality in Metro Manila and other urban centers.

As part of its implementation of RA 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004, the DENR was able to monitor the compliance of 8,664 firms or industries, equivalent to 122 percent of the annual target of 7,123.

The DENR had also entered into 92 agreements with LGUs under the Adopt an Estero or Water Body Program, instead of the original target of 64.

Six new water quality management areas (WQMAs) were also designated this year. These are Lower Amburayan River System; Dupong, Matlang, and Merida; Malabon-Navotas-Tullahan-Tinajeros River System; Iyam-Dumacaa Rivers; and Las Piñas-Parañaque River System.

According to Cimatu, WQMA is a significant tool in enforcing the country’s clean water law. It aims for the improvement of water quality to meet the guidelines under which water bodies have been classified or to improve their classification and meet their potential use, he added.

As soon as he assumed the DENR post in May 2017, Cimatu vowed to prioritize environmental protection through full implementation of existing laws on clean air, clean water and solid waste management. # 

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