Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has welcomed the enactment of laws establishing five more protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), which brings to 112 the total number of legislated protected areas nationwide.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11684 or the Mt. Arayat Protected Landscape Act; RA 11685 or the Mt. Pulag Protected Landscape Act; RA 11686 or the Naga-Kabasalan Protected Landscape Act; RA 11687 or the Tirad Pass Protected Landscape Act; and RA 11688 or the Banao Protected Landscape Act.

With the legislation of new protected areas, DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna believes that “more people are realizing the importance of placing biologically important areas under the intensified protection of the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018.”

“We welcome these recent developments in additional protected areas from our legislators. May this be the impetus of further environmental protection in more biologically important and related conservation areas,” Sampulna said.

It will be recalled that in 2018, RA 7586 or the NIPAS Act of 1992 was amended by RA 11038 or the E-NIPAS Act, which also legislated 94 protected areas under the System.

Meanwhile, DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Natividad Bernardino reminded the community and the local government units near the concerned sites to “cooperate with the DENR in the sustainable management and effective administration of these newly legislated protected areas.”

The potentially active stratovolcano, Mt. Arayat Protected Landscape is located in Pampanga, while Mt. Pulag Protected Landscape, a dormant volcano and the third highest mountain the Philippines, straddles the provinces of Benguet and Ifugao.

Located in Mindanao, the Naga-Kabasalan Protected Landscape is a parcel of land with a vast area of mangroves between the towns of Naga and Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay.

The Tirad Pass Protected Landscape is a historically important landmark in Ilocos Sur as the site of the heroism of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar during the 1899 Philippine–American War.

The Banao Protected Landscape in Kalinga is a merger of the Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park and Banao watershed area, and is home to the Banao tribe.

“Our laws would be futile if people near these areas would violate them, so we urge those who live near these areas to help the DENR in its mission to conserve these sites for the benefit of their children and grandchildren,” Bernardino said. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) vowed to pursue future partnerships with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), as it welcomed Sakamoto Takema as JICA’s new Chief Representative to the Philippines.

Sakamoto took over JICA Philippines from former Chief Representative Azukizawa Eigo, who steered JICA’s development cooperation projects in the Philippines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“DENR and JICA have a long history of partnership, and we have achieved many milestones together. Under Mr. Sakamoto’s leadership, we will continue to support them for the protection and conservation of our environment and natural resources,” said DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna.

Prior to his appointment, Sakamoto held wide-ranging leadership positions in JICA for over 30 years, including Director General for the South Asia Department at the JICA headquarters, and JICA Chief Representative in Iraq and India in 2011 and 2015, respectively.

Sakamoto laid out JICA’s two projects, the PH-P248: Forestland Management Project, and the Project for Capacity Development on Improving Solid Waste Management through Advanced/Innovative Technologies during a courtesy call to Sampulna on May 16.

He is also looking forward to further coordination with the DENR for the smooth implementation of these projects.

Through the years, DENR and JICA have been working closely for the protection and conservation of the environment and natural resources.

JICA has sponsored DENR’s training program on Sustainable Forestry Management with Community Participation in 2019, and also partnered with DENR-led Task Force Build Back Better for the rehabilitation of the Marikina River.

Since the 1960s, JICA has been assisting in the country’s development projects, including environment, agriculture, and peace and development in Mindanao. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), has launched a data center that provides real-time monitoring of air and water quality, including the status of solid and hazardous waste management, facilities with environmental compliance certificates (ECCs), and online permitting system.

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said the EMB Data Center unveiled on May 18 provides the most intensive services to “give the public quality environmental data that brings together real-time air, water and even solid waste data from across the country that will certainly empower our citizens to make informed health choices and strengthen the DENR’s capability to take immediate action against erring establishments.”

Sampulna noted that similar undertakings have been made in other DENR field offices in recent years but were “not as intensive as this one.”

He commended the efforts of the DENR-EMB as the funds for the establishment of the P10-million facility came from the savings of the bureau.

According to Stephen Roie Lee, head of the facility’s IT team, expenses for the facility’s programming and operation would reach almost P100 million if contracted out to a third party.

“This is the kind of leadership and management that I like. You’re given 10 and you accomplished much more than 10 pesos,” Sampulna said.

DENR-EMB Director William Cuñado said they have pooled together in-house talents of computer programmers both from its main office and regional offices to come up with an integrated platform for the facility which is housed in a 60-square meter room at the EMB executive building in Quezon City.

The data can be accessed at www.emb.gov.ph

Cuñado said the aggregate and validated data on air, water, and solid waste from all EMB regional offices are housed in the data center to efficiently monitor the compliance of various industries and establishments.

The facility strengthens DENR’s push for transparency and good governance as the platform allows for early detection of pollutive activities, as the center is equipped with a notification system which is set off once it records an exceedance in emission from a plant connected to its system.

A self-generated show cause order is sent online to the establishment, giving it 24 hours to explain why it should not face proceedings leading to a possible issuance of a notice of violation.

Other vital information stored in the data center includes online application and processing for wastewater discharge permits along with the names of applicant-firms that have been approved and denied, providing public transparency on the compliance of establishments to the DENR effluent quality standards.

The public can also access data on the status of solid waste management facilities including the materials recovery facilities (MRFs) at the barangay level and 10-year solid waste management plans that have been submitted by local government units (LGUs) to the National Solid Waste Management Commission.

Likewise, accessible from the data center are the location, status, respective capacities of operational sanitary landfills (SLFs) and the corresponding LGUs accommodated by these SLFs.

The DENR-EMB Environmental Monitoring Officers can also upload their reports on “uncleaned or validated cleaned” sites in public areas and report it to the concerned LGUs.

Included in the center’s data are the location and testing capabilities of 22 EMB operational laboratories nationwide.

Also shown in the data center are 61 environmental laboratories currently recognized by the DENR through EMB as a measure to augment the capacities of the 22 laboratories to address the increase in the demand for testing.

The location of these DENR-recognized laboratories are shown in the database, including the testing parameters for which they are recognized, expiration dates of their respective DENR recognition certificates, and rates for their testing services in water/wastewater, ambient air and stationary source emissions, sediments and biota, and transformer oil and waste oil. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), will lead the Philippine celebration of the 2022 International Day for Biological Diversity (IDBD) on May 23, 2022, with protected areas (PAs) as the highlight of this year’s celebration.

Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said the DENR continues to “work together with partner agencies and organizations to manage the PAs to ensure that the remaining biologically rich areas and the various ecosystem services they provide will be sustained.”

“PAs are sites for nature recreation and a water source for irrigation and households. They regulate the climate, mitigate the impact of climate change and reduce risk of disasters, critical for human survival in this modern age,” Sampulna said.

The theme for this year’s celebration, “Building a shared future for all life,” highlights the need to act for nature towards a future where people and biodiversity thrive.

It will feature two main events—the launch of the Year of the Protected Areas (YoPA) and the Kabahagi: An IDBD 2022 Capture Quest.

The YoPA will commemorate the 90th anniversary of the enactment of Republic Act No. 3915 or the National Parks Act, which established the national parks system in the Philippines in 1932.

With the theme “Protected Areas for a Protected Future,” the YoPA campaign will launch a massive information drive that will highlight the need to conserve and protect PAs, encourage people to travel locally and consider PAs as travel destinations.

“The series of PA promotions can greatly help in generating additional revenues from tourist visits which will help boost not only the financial aspect of PA management but also ensure the continuity of conservation efforts within these biodiversity-rich areas,” said DENR-BMB Director Natividad Bernardino.

The DENR will spearhead the signing of a joint declaration that will support the celebration of YoPA, a year-long awareness raising-campaign to promote Philippine national parks.

The YoPA campaign kick-off will feature six PAs in different regions namely, Bongsanglay Natural Park in Masbate, Apo Reef Natural Park in Occidental Mindoro, Samar Island Natural Park in Northern and Eastern Samar and Samar, Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park in Negros Oriental, Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental, and Mt. Timpoong Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument in Camiguin.

The Philippines has so far named 246 PAs across the country under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS).

Meanwhile, the Kabahagi: An IDBD 2022 Capture Quest which started on May 20, 2022 gives DENR regional, field, and protected area management offices staff the chance to showcase the beauty of their chosen protected areas in their regions, as well as their photography skills.

The photo contest is the DENR-BMB’s first simultaneous one-day shoot photo contest where the participants in different locations will set their cameras to the same date and time and take photos in their respective PAs interpreting the five given categories namely, flora and fauna, symmetry, movement, details, and creative.

DENR-BMB has partnered with Canon Philippines, USAID- Investing in Sustainability and Partnerships for Inclusive Growth and Regenerative Ecosystems (INSPIRE), Gerry Roxas Foundation along with USAID-Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes or SIBOL project, DENR-UNDP-Biodiversity Finance Initiative (BIOFIN) project and DENR-UNDP/GEF Project on Integrated Approach to Management of Major Biodiversity Corridors in the Philippines (BD Cor) project for the photo competition inspired by Canon’s Photo Marathon contest.

Since the year 2000, the IDBD has been annually celebrated every 22nd of May around the world to raise awareness on the values, relevance, and importance of biodiversity to human lives and all life forms.

As a member state of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, the Philippines is one of the 196 countries around the world that celebrates IDBD. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has underscored the mining sector’s potential to contribute to economic recovery through sustained support for responsible mining and establishment of mineral processing plants.

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna cited the contribution of the mining industry to the country’s economy in recent years, during the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Joint Consultative Meeting on Mining Concerns in Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula on May 5.

“Even during the pandemic, the mining industry was able to boost our country’s gross domestic product (GDP) by P102.3 billion in 2020, and by P22.3 billion in the first quarter of 2021,” Sampulna said in his speech read by Undersecretary for Legal, Administration, Human Resources and Legislative Affairs Ernesto D. Adobo Jr.

Adobo, who is also the Supervising Undersecretary for Mining Affairs, pointed out that if responsible and sustainable utilization of resources continues, the mining industry’s contribution to GDP would be “100 percent of what the sector is contributing today, and maybe more.”

“There are even numbers saying it would be in trillions,” Adobo pointed out.

However, Adobo emphasized that mining activities should be done with due regard to the environment.

For his part, MGB Director Wilfredo G. Moncano said the DENR aims to reach a globally competitive mineral sector with the establishment of mineral processing plants across the country.

“The economic contribution of having mineral processing plants in the country is 7 to 12 times more than the current setup, and that is, direct shipping of minerals produced. If we have these processing plants, we will have bigger shares of exports, revenues, taxes, and fees,” Moncano said.

He added: “We aim to reduce the direct shipping of our ores and instead have the processing here. Right now, we are only processing nickel, but if we have more mineral processing plants, we can recover other minerals like chromite, scandium and cobalt.”

Moncano said the DENR-MGB is now coordinating with the Senate and the House of Representatives to push for legislation pertaining to the establishment of mineral processing plants in the country.

The consultative meeting held in Cagayan de Oro City gathered mining companies in the Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao identified by the MGB with mining priority projects in Phases 1 and 2.

Phase 1 covers companies in the development and construction stage whose commercial operations are expected to become viable within six months, while Phase 2 includes companies in the process of filing for declaration of mining project feasibility and those in the advanced exploration stage.

The event served as an avenue that linked mining companies and national government agencies, such as the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau, National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Department of Agriculture, Department of Agrarian Reform, and Department of Public Works and Highways, to discuss issues and concerns during the filing of mining applications, securing of certifications, and approval of permits, and to clarify and expedite processes. ###