The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is willing to extend its expertise to help in the rehabilitation of a mined-out site on Tumbagaan Island in Tawi-Tawi, a province situated in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement, Mining, and Muslim Affairs Jim O. Sampulna said that while Tawi-Tawi is not under DENR's jurisdiction, the agency is ready to help BARMM's Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (MENRE) for their environment-related initiatives.

Sampulna said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has specifically directed him to prepare in case the BARMM government asks for assistance.

"If they will seek technical assistance, we are willing to extend expertise, not just in mining but in all other aspects that BARMM needs such as in lands, forestry, biodiversity, and environment," he said.

Sampulna also clarified that the DENR does not have the authority to conduct mining-related operations in Tawi-Tawi, following public calls for the DENR to act on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's order to immediately stop the mining activities in Tumbagaan Island.

"However, the DENR fully supports the order of the President to suspend the mining operations in the said area for its rehabilitation," he stressed.

"BARMM is now conducting an investigation on the site to fast track the rehabilitation,” Sampulna said, noting that the nickel mining company has the primary responsibility to restore the area.

He further explained that the BARMM has its own environment office. "BARMM now has the MENRE, which is responsible for environmental initiatives in the Muslim autonomous region.”

Sampulna added that the MENRE was previously called DENR-ARMM which has its own Secretary. The office was under the now defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). ###