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Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje expressed humility on President Aquino’s decision to appoint him on a permanent capacity, saying he is even “more challenged” now with his designation as well to head the Cabinet cluster on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

At the same time, Paje called on all officials and employees of the DENR to continue supporting the president’s agenda for “tuwid na daan” by helping the people break from the bondage of poverty through improved programs on environmental protection and natural resources management.
“I am deeply happy and humbled by the President’s decision and I intend to be worthy of the honor of the President’s confidence,” Paje said.

While maintaining that he will continue to serve at the pleasure of the President, Paje vowed to continue initiating administrative and policy reforms in the department.

He emphasized to the DENR employees the importance of fitness in government service. “Performers will be rewarded while the rogue and corrupt officials and employees shall be punished,” Paje said.

The DENR chief also added that erring employees shall not be allowed to tarnish the good name of the institution, “Kailanman ay hindi natin hahayaang sirain ng iilang tiwaling opisyal o empleyado ang pinagtrabahuan natin,” he said.

Paje also welcomed his latest assignments as chairman of the Cabinet cluster for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and as a member of the cluster on human development and poverty reduction. “I am doubly challenged now with the added mandates from the President,” Paje stressed.

President Aquino issued on May 13, Executive Order No. 43 creating five Cabinet clusters, namely: Good Governance and Anti-Corruption; Human Development and Poverty Reduction; Economic Development; Security, Justice and Peace; Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

Under the order, the DENR secretary shall serve as chairman of the cluster on climate change mitigation and adaptation and as a member in the human development and poverty reduction cluster.

The other members of the climate change cluster include the chairmen of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the Metro Manila Development Authority; the secretaries of the Departments of Science and Technology, Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare and Development, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Energy, and National Defense. The Climate Change Commission shall function as the secretariat for the cluster.

“With the inclusion of climate change, the President has effectively reconfigured the entire bureaucracy into global-warming-responsive state apparatus,” he said.

Paje noted the cluster system would have the advantage of ensuring greater coordination of policies, programs and strategies among government agencies resulting in greater complementation of policies within the same cluster and across clusters.

“It will ensure complementation between education policy and health policy; industrial policy and macro-economic policy; social, environmental and economic policy,” Paje added, noting the system will also allow policy makers to anticipate, for, example, impacts of economic policy on employment creation and poverty reduction and environmental management as these policies would be clearly spelled out through a coordinated approach to policy formulation and planning.

Other important green initiatives of President Aquino, said Paje, include Executive Order No. 23, which bans logging in natural forests and the creation of an inter-agency task force against illegal logging, and Executive Order No. 26 declaring the implementation of the National Greening Program as a government priority program. “From ground-breaking presidential fiats like Executive Orders 23 and 26 to his initiatives in rallying our countrymen to celebrate the richness of the country’s natural splendor, the President has amply proven his commitment to the perpetuity of our country’s natural resources,” said Paje, citing the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 43 as “yet another example of the President’s commitment to his green agenda to safeguard and enrich the strength and viability of our nation both for the present and future generations.”