Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has resolved a total of 606 land dispute cases or around 43 percent of the 1,419 cases referred to its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program since 2019.

This was disclosed by DENR Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs and ADR Committee Chair Michelle Angelica Go during the awarding ceremony for Best ADR Officers (ADROs) which was the highlight of the DENR’s National ADR Day 2022 celebration held last December 6 at its central office in Quezon City.

Noting that previous delays in resolving land dispute cases feed “mistrust” in the DENR, Go said the speedy resolution of land cases through the ADR mechanism raises the agency’s integrity which, she said, is “a crucial determinant of citizens’ trust in government.”

According to Go, the 606 mediated cases over the four-year period “is quite a feat” considering the longer time and costly expenses these cases would have entailed if resolved through court litigation.

Go said the ADR mechanism benefits disputants in terms of time and costs compared to resorting to filing lawsuits where two parties are put through an adversary system and court decisions are based on the merits of the dispute.

The DENR’s adoption of ADR mechanism was pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9285, or the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004 and DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2005-18, which called for the adoption of the ADR principles and procedures in the resolution of conflicts.

Some 412 ADR mediations were conducted in 2022 mostly via online, exceeding by 110 percent last year’s 376 ADR mediations conducted.

Go attributed the increase in ADR mediations last year to the full implementation of DAO 2021-01 entitled “Guidelines on the Conduct of Virtual Alternative Dispute Resolution Proceedings in the Resolution of Land Claims and Conflicts and Other Natural Resources Disputes in the Department” issued on Jan. 29, 2021.

Besides RA 9285, DAO 2021-01 is likewise pursuant to RA 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act” which spells out measures for COVID-19 response and recovery interventions and to the Supreme Court’s Administrative Circular No. 37-2020 that calls for the pilot testing of hearings through videoconferencing.

The lands sector is the first to be adopted in the DENR’s ADR program. In 2018, a comprehensive 80-hour accreditation training was conducted for the purpose.

Of the 427 individuals who completed the training program, active ADROs presently stand at 346 following the transfer to other government agencies or retirement of the other 78 ADROs.

According to Go, majority of the DENR-ADROs are non-lawyers which is an advantage as opposed to lawyer-ADROs.

“As mediation facilitators, ADROs go beyond the legalese. The mindset should not be legalese. You get out of that box and it’s better if the ADRO is a non-lawyer,” Go pointed out.

She expressed optimism over the program’s further institutionalization at the agency and rollout in the mining and forestry sector citing the support given by DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga at the opening of the ADR photo exhibit held in the morning of the awarding.

“The environment chief expressed appreciation for the number of non-lawyers in DENR’s roster of ADROs as she noted that dispute resolution requires a mindset that is not legalese,” Go bared.

Go also said the DENR is currently boosting its ADRO recruitment and accreditation with its plan to roll out the ADR mechanism to the forestry and mining sectors as well.

Named as 2022 Top ADROs were Mildred Atienza Pascual (DENR Region IV-B), Sebastian Miguel Magat (DENR-Region II), Alexis Valdez Abrasaldo (DENR-Region II), Jose Angelo Nermal Fabila (DENR-Region VI) and Orland Julius Moscardon Padios (DENR-Region VI).

The DENR regional offices I, II, IV-B, VI and X also received the Top Pool of ADRO Awards in recognition of their support to institutionalize the ADR mechanism within their respective areas of jurisdiction. ###

 

The government’s ongoing rehabilitation efforts appeared to be paying off as the water quality within the Manila Bay region continued to improve this year.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) attributed this achievement to the faithful and efficient implementation of the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS) and the various geo-engineering initiatives by the inter-agency Manila Bay Task Force (MBTF) headed by the DENR.

Following almost four years of rehabilitation efforts, the so-called “Battle for Manila Bay” resulted in significant improvement in the water quality within the bay region as shown by the gradual decrease in fecal coliform level since January 2019.

As of October 2022, the fecal coliform level in the National Capital Region (NCR) went down to 51,300 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100mL) from a high of 126,000 MPN/100mL in 2019, according to the Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO).

Significant decreases in coliform levels were also recorded in other areas within Manila Bay. The coliform level in Region IV-A’s bathing beaches dropped to 643 MPN/100mL from 3,040 MPN/100mL.

In Region III, the coliform level fell to 1,243 MPN/100mL from 5,099 MPN/100mL. It also went down in the river mouths or outfalls in Region IV-A from 94,000 MPN/100mL to 47,000 MPN/100mL.

At the same time, the coliform level in the famous Manila Baywalk area has significantly decreased to 658,000 MPN/100mL from a high of 5.75 million MPN/100mL.

In terms of liquid waste management, MBCO reported that as of the third quarter of 2022, a total of 1,202 establishments were surveyed and mapped, while 5,919 establishments were monitored, of which 61 were slapped with cease and desist orders and 949 were issued notices of violation.

The MBCO said that in terms of solid waste management, more than 125,000 cubic meters of solid waste were collected through trash traps, trash boats, and cleanup activities, as of September 2022.

In the management of informal settler families and illegal structures, a total of 128.47 kilometers were delineated to comply with the 20-meter easement across the three regions of Manila Bay.

Through the initiative of Region III, alternative livelihoods were provided to the resettled individuals through the construction of floating restaurants and development of an ecotourism area.

Under habitat and resources management, the MBCO reported that 13,535 mangroves and 24,730 bamboo propagules were planted throughout the bay region during the third quarter of 2022.

Aside from this, a total of 1,694 metric tons of fish catch were recorded by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, while the DENR-NCR recorded 9,248 birds of 197 different species.

On the other hand, Task Force Water Hyacinth reported that 22,453.02 cubic meters of water hyacinths were collected and disposed of by the DENR offices in NCR and Regions III and IV-A; Pasig River Coordinating and Management Office; Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and other member agencies within their areas of jurisdiction.

Additional cleanup activities were conducted at the river system choke points to strategically eliminate the influx of water hyacinths due to the onset of Habagat season.

In support of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program, the MMDA and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), under the supervision of the Mandamus Agencies and the MBTF, are also working on geo-engineering interventions and infrastructure.

As of October 2022, two of the seven projects in Manila Baywalk have been completed: the solar-powered comfort rooms on Padre Faura and Abad Streets; and the security, operation and maintenance of a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant (STP). The rest of the projects are at 83 to 96 percent completion.

At the Libertad Channel, which is also a hotspot in water pollution, dredging activities were completed while a solar-powered STP with a capacity of 10 million liters per day is already built and only awaiting commissioning.

MBCO Executive Director Jacob F. Meimban said the STP interventions are expected to significantly reduce pollution in the major waterways.

He said the agencies involved in the Manila Bay rehab will adopt sustainable management interventions in the Baywalk area in the coming year, implement community-based approach in solid waste management through waste-to-energy and upscaling, and promote nature-based approach through the development of a mangrove agenda.

“At the moment, we are also working on the institutionalization of the MBCO to ensure continuity in the implementation of the projects and activities under the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program,” Meimban said. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) capped off the year with a “satisfactory” rating of 89.78 percent in the 2022 Report Card Survey (RCS) 2.0 conducted by the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) in compliance with Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018. 
 
RCS 2.0 is a tool that measures effectiveness of the Citizen’s Charter in reducing regulatory burdens, and the impact of human resource systems and programs in delivering efficient government service.
 
Together with other top performing government agencies, the DENR was feted during an awarding ceremony held last December 19 in Pasay City. The DENR received a Certificate of Recognition, a Certificate of Participation, and its report card.
 
DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga, through Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones, said the entire DENR community was honored and grateful for the award.
 
Leones also said that the high score received by the DENR in the ARTA survey was a clear indication that the agency was “on the right track in its goal to deliver excellent and efficient public service.”
 
“With a score of 89.78 percent, the DENR is challenged to work even better to serve the Filipino people through prompt action on transactions done in all our offices. We remain committed to our duties as public servants,” Leones said. 
 
RCS 2.0 has been under pilot implementation since it was launched in 2021 as a feedback mechanism to improve government services.
 
A total of 50 offices and agencies providing government services were subjected to the pilot implementation of the survey. These include 30 National Government Agencies, five government-owned and controlled corporations, five local government units, five state universities and colleges and five government hospitals.
 
Under the RCS rating system, agencies with a rating of 95 to 100 percent are classified as Excellent agencies; 90 to 94.99 percent, Very Satisfactory;  85 to 89.9 percent, Satisfactory; 80 to 84.99 percent, Compliant; and 75 to 79.99 percent, Needs Improvement; 74.99 percent and below, Requires thorough Review of RA 11032 requirements.
 
For this year, the Awards Committee looked into three processes of the DENR National Capital Region, including the issuances of tree cutting and earth-balling permits, tree cutting permit for planted trees, and application for chainsaw registration.
 
Other government agencies recognized as “Satisfactory Agencies” and received an RCS rating of 85 to 89.9 percent were the Department of Social Welfare and Development, Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag-IBIG Fund), Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, Philippine Statistics Authority, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation, Valenzuela City, Cooperative Development Authority, Bureau of Internal Revenue, and Polytechnic University of the Philippines – Main Campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila.
 
Government agencies that obtained a “very satisfactory” rating or an RCS rating of 90 to 94 percent, and bagged the Silver Award were the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Government Service Insurance System, the University of the Philippines-Diliman, and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. 
 
There was no recipient of the Gold Award last year. ###
 

Secretary Antonia Loyzaga has commended officials and employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for their hard work and dedication to duty as she acknowledged their solidarity and support that enabled her to “weather the transition” during her first five months in office.

“There has been tremendous work done even in the last five months in setting the foundation towards our goal to make a lasting impact of change towards a resilient Philippines,” Loyzaga said in her message during the DENR Yearend Employees Assembly held last December 9.

“Marami pong salamat sa cooperation, collaboration and all the efforts that you have put in order for us to weather the transition from one administration to another,” Loyzaga stressed while describing as “extraordinary example” the commitment, professionalism and solidarity shown by the DENR workers.

Loyzaga likewise vowed to pursue next year plans to restructure the agency’s present setup in order to improve its capability to fulfill its mandate.

“The transformation is underway,” Loyzaga said, in a bid to ensure that the agency’s overall strategies are aligned with its priorities and programs.

Loyzaga likewise cited the need to make the most of the pledges of support from stakeholders that took part in the round of consultations designed to help the DENR improve its service delivery to the public, particularly the environment and natural resources sector.

“We already have garnered so many pledges of support from different partners. Let’s make the most of it and let’s show our public how we really deserve the respect from our partners,” Loyzaga said.

The environment chief explained that the basis of the integrity in the profession as DENR workers lies in the “shared responsibility for protecting our natural resources and also our connection with the spiritual” and called for this creed to be each one’s own mantra.

Loyzaga reminded the DENR officials and employees that they are all “environmental advocates and change makers” and should endeavor to embody “what it truly means to be ethical stewards of our God’s creation.”

“Our work is not easy, but we can make progress if we work together,” she stressed.

She ended her message with a call to support one another and reflect on “how much of a privilege it is to serve our country.” ###

The country’s overall effort to address climate change is set to get a boost with the completion of resilience roadmaps and the corresponding investment portfolios for risk resilience (IPRR) designed for 16 vulnerable areas in the Philippines.

The roadmaps and IPRR for 12 climate-vulnerable provinces and four major urban cities were turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) Center under the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) last December 19 in Quezon City.

Developed under the Risk Resiliency Program (RRP) of the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction, each roadmap with IPRR contains recommended actions to manage the risks and vulnerabilities in the climate-vulnerable areas in the form of specific resilience measures.

Key findings and relevant experiences were also presented by the study teams that conducted the risk assessments in the climate-vulnerable areas, during the turnover ceremony.

“These planning documents will definitely help inform both local and national investment programming, resulting in more efficient and climate-responsive programs that make better use of our limited resources,” said DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems and Climate Change Analiza Rebuelta-Teh.

The roadmaps were developed for the provinces of Siquijor, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, North Cotabato, Maguindanao, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Apayao, Kalinga, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Catanduanes, as well as the urban centers of Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Iloilo and Metro Davao.

This initiative is implemented by the NEDA-PPP Center and the DENR under the project “Strengthening Public-Private Partnerships in the Philippines” with support from the Asian Development Bank and the Government of the United Kingdom through its Urban Climate Change Resilience Trust Fund.

Key officials who witnessed the turnover were DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones; PPP Center Executive Director Cynthia Hernandez and Director Lerma Advincula; ADB’s urban climate change resilience specialist Dr. Ramon Abracosa; and Jacques Miel-Soliguin, Climate Change and Energy Attache of the British Embassy. ###