Paje wants ship owners to also pay lost marine services from Bakud Reef

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said that damages inflicted on the Bakud (Takut) Reef in Kiamba, Sarangani by  MV Double Prosperity  last May 8 should include not only the cost of the damaged coral area but the total worth of marine services that have been lost.
“We estimate that the damaged cost in Bakud Reef could run up to PhP42 million. But this amount is like giving a slap on the wrist on the ship’s owners as the value in marine services that was lost as a consequence of the accident is invaluable,” Paje said. 

Thus, Paje directed Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) Director  Mundita Lim to recommend in tomorrow’s meeting of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Sangani Bay Protected Seascape, to consider in the computation of penalty to be imposed on the erring ship the lost value of  marine services that would remain non-existent for at least 20 years, the minimum period needed before it can regain its former condition,” Paje stressed.

Paje said  P42  million is  too small a compensation.  It does not take into consideration to the lost marine life that could have  spawned in the rich marine that could ultimately benefitted even millions of  Saranggani residents especially for the region’s fisherfolk and its allied enterprise dependent on the region’s teeming fishing  industry. 

The 225-meter Panama-registered cargo tanker, loaded with 65,900 metric tons of coal, was heading for India from Australia when it plowed through a portion of Bakud Reef which is within the 215,950- hectare Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS), a declared protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 756.

A hectare (10,000 square meters) of coral reef has an annual average value of US$130,000 in terms of services to humans, according to a research posted at the Science Daily website 

Paje said that the SBPS’s Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) is yet to give an official damage cost and hopes that the figure it will come up with would be reflective of the points he raised. 

The SBPS-PAMB is co-chaired by Sarangani Governor Miguel Dominguez and DENR-Region 12 Executive Director Alfredo Pascual and is set to convene on May 18 to assess the damage. 

“We must make sure that the operators of MV Double Prosperity pay the full amount of fines due for the reef damage their ship caused. To do any less would make a mockery of the Philippine legal system, particularly our National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Law and the Bakud Reef as a protected area,” Paje said.


Pres. Aquino launches 6-year greening program, plants first of 1.5B trees targeted for NGP

The goal is to put back trees on hundreds of thousands of hectares where they once stood. 

Today, May 13, 2011, President Benigno S Aquino III will lead the launching of the National Greening Program (NGP) at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City.

He will be joined in the launching ceremony by members of his Cabinet, notably the heads of the National Converge Initiative (NCI) core agencies, namely, Sec. Virgilio delos Reyes of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Sec. Proceso Alcala of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Sec. Ramon J. P. Paje of the DENR, and Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa. 

United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative to the Philippines Dr. Jacqueline Badcock is also expected to attend to receive the NGP Plans and Targets, the country’s contribution to the International Year of Forests (IYF).  Through a resolution, the UN has declared 2011 as IYF.   

In a fitting show of example, Pres. Aquino will launch the government’s 6-year reforestation program by registering on-line to the NGP website, thus shall becoming the first NGP registrant, in an apparent gesture of inspiring the citizenry to follow suit and cast the citizens’ support as well.  

Targeted at greening some 1.5 million hectares of degraded forest lands, NGP will focus essentially at developing a sustainable forest resource base to accelerate the national greening campaign and rejuvenate rural economies in parts of the nation’s most chronically poor areas in the uplands, ultimately providing livelihood opportunities for some six million families in the upland areas across the country within six years, from 2011 to 2016. 

NGP also seeks to improve water quality in rivers and irrigation for farm lands, reduce the potential for flooding, soak up carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lay the foundation for an expanded wood-products economy. 

President Aquino issued EO 26 on February 24, 2011 establishing the NGP not only to reforest 1.5 million hectares of land but also to promote a sustained environmental awareness campaign in the face of the deleterious effects of climate change.
Earlier, Aquino issued Executive Order No. 23 which bans logging in natural and residual forests nationwide and, at the same time, calls for the preparation of a blueprint for a National Greening Program (NGP) to be formulated by the DENR, DAR and DA through a Convergence Initiative, in coordination with concerned national line agencies including the local government units. The launching ceremony will start at around 9:30 a.m. at the DENR Social Hall, with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between DENR Secretary Paje and Energy Development Corporation Chairman Emeritus Oscar M. Lopez for the joint implementation of “BINHI: A Greening Legacy,” a 10-year program that aims to contribute to the restoration of forest cover in the country while addressing the problem on biodiversity loss.  

It will be followed by messages from Agriculture Secretary Alcala and Agrarian Reform Secretary Delos Reyes.

DENR Secretary Paje comes next with a presentation on the overview of the National Greening Program as a new development model that offers incentives to stimulate tree nurturing. The NGP Plans and Targets will then be turned over by Paje to UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Jacqueline Badcock, as the Philippine contribution to the International Year of Forests (IYF). 

President Aquino has earlier issued Proclamation 125, declaring 2011 as the National Year of Forests in the Philippines, in support of the UN declaration.

During the event, the President will also give posthumous awards of recognition to seven “environmental heroes” (four are DENR, three are non-DENR) for having stood up to the call of duty and sacrificing their lives for the protection of the country’s environment and natural resources.    

The launching will be concluded with Pres. Aquino planting a Narra sapling at the Heroes Park located at the back of the DENR main building. 


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