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Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu emphasized the importance of moving forward in protecting the country’s forest ecosystem and biodiversity, during the virtual celebration of the World Wildlife Day on Wednesday, March 3.

"In order to achieve our goals, we do not need to go back to an era of primitivity, where we abandon the comforts of the 21st century and tailor our lives after our ancestors," Cimatu said in his speech delivered by DENR Undersecretary for Legal, Administration, Human Resources and Legislative Affairs Ernesto D. Adobo Jr.

"Instead, we must find ways to continue to advance while maintaining the integrity of our forest ecosystems. What is needed is a step forward, not a step back," Cimatu emphasized.

To step forward, the DENR chief said there should be an effective collaboration of enforcement agencies and formulation of innovative solutions to the country’s most pressing environmental problems.

"It also means the creation of sustainable models that will guide the government in defining policies for the management of our ecosystems. It also means legislating pro-environment rules such as the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases," Cimatu said.

"Lastly, it means establishing frameworks that will lead to more efficient investigation and prosecution of crimes," he added.

Cimatu also expressed respect and appreciation to the country's indigenous peoples (IPs), saying that while the World Wildlife Day is celebrated globally, its core values remain "very Filipino."

"A perfect example is when we look to our indigenous peoples. Their survival depends on the integrity of our forests. And though our IPs are only a segment of our country’s population, it does not mean that the rest of us does not, in a similar way, depend on our surroundings for survival," Cimatu stressed in line with this year’s celebration theme, "Forests and Livelihoods: Sustaining People and Planet."

As part of the celebration of the World Wildlife Day, the DENR's Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) also held the 8th Wildlife Law Enforcement Awards and the National Recognition of the Inter-agency Task Force Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife (POGI) for bagging the prestigious Asia Environmental Enforcement Awards given by the United Nations Environment Programme in February.

A total of 43 law enforcers from various partner-agencies, such as the National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine National Police, and Bureau of Customs were recognized.

 

The recipients were composed of 18 gold awardees, two silver awardees, and 23 bronze awardees.

BMB also conducted several youth competitions, including poster-making, mobile photography, and jingle-making.

The winners of the poster-making and mobile photography contests received P15,000 (first prize), P10,000 (second prize), and P7,500 (third prize). Ten (10) participants got a consolation prize of P2,000 each.

For the jingle-making contest, the first, second, and third placers received P20,000, P15,000, and P10,000, respectively.

Three jingle-making contest participants also received a consolation prize of P3,000 each.

The celebration was also highlighted by the launch of online learning platforms, which include the eLearning course for Basic Wildlife Law Training and the Wildlife Philippines Podcast, under the DENR-Asian Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility Illegal Wildlife Trade Project and USAID-Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Project 3. #