Press Releases

 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje is urging lawmakers to act immediately against the continued killing of forest protection workers by enacting laws classifying illegal logging as a heinous crime.

Paje made the appeal following the death of another DENR employee in Agusan del Sur by suspected illegal loggers.
On February 22, DENR tree marker Jaime Diez, 45, was shot dead inside his residence in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur, 15 days after DENR forestry specialist Melania Dirain, 47, was gunned down inside her office in Sanchez Mira, Cagayan last February 7, 2011.

Earlier, President Benigno Aquino III directed the DENR, the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of National Defense, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to heighten the campaign against illegal logging including the protection of forest law enforcers.

“Illegal logging has spawned the culture of impunity that has befallen upon our forest protection workers,” Paje said, noting that the two DENR field workers were killed in two separate incidents this month.

“Diez and Dirain are just a tiny fraction of a long list of environmental protectors who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty. And that list is getting longer by the month,” Paje stressed.

“Drug pushers and economic saboteurs are slapped with capital punishments for destroying lives and families. With more reason that illegal loggers should be meted out with the same punishment because the death which they cause not only destroys lives and families but communities as well with every tree felled by their chainsaws,” Paje pointed out.

There is a bill now pending in the House of Representatives declaring illegal logging a heinous crime.

House Bill (HB) 00744 filed by Representative Jane Tan Castro of Capiz on July 7, 2010 seeks to make capital punishment as the penalty for illegal logging, and that it should be meted out with the penalty of death should the death penalty be restored for capital offenses as defined in the Revised Penal Code.

  

 

Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon Paje reiterated today’s (Feb. 28) deadline for timber firms in transporting all inventoried timber harvested from natural and residual forests as set in Resolution No. 6 of the National Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (NAILTF).

“Effective March 1, 2012, all logs and lumber that are confiscated and found to have been derived from the country’s natural and residual forests shall be considered state property,” said the secretary, who chairs the NAILTF. He added that the confiscated products would then be turned over to the Department of Education for conversion into school chairs and desks.

Timber licensees had been granted a 90-day extension period, from November 28, 2011 to February 28 of this year to be able to transport their products, provided that they had paid the necessary forest charges prior to May 21, 2011.

In relation to this, Paje also bared that the apprehending teams of the NAILTF would now be fielded with police and military personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for firepower, and forestry and legal officers from the DENR and the Department of Justice (DOJ) “to provide the technical and legal muscle.”

“This new approach to fight illegal logging is seen to ensure convictions in court cases filed against illegal loggers,” he said. To date, the implementation of the EO has seen the confiscation of 12,014,244 board feet of illegally-harvester forest products, and the filing of 461 cases against forestry law violators.

Paje expressed optimism that the new strategy will “effectively shield DENR field forestry officers as all operations of NAILTF’s regional operatives are directly under the regional counterparts of the NAILTF.”

Paje said all coordination and planning efforts pertaining to apprehension and intelligence work of the Regional Anti-illegal Logging Task Forces (RAILTFs) will be under the watch and supervision of the NAILTF’s central command post at the DENR central office in Quezon City headed by its executive director (ret) Major General Renato Miranda.

“We will keep our AILTF teams the best-trained, best-led, best equipped fighting force in our history of guarding the rights of the state to her forest land and forest resources,” said Paje, noting that the offensive will see a shift away from DENR field personnel the burden of pursuing an aggressive campaign against illegal loggers which resulted in the slaying of forestry officers.

Paje reiterated plans to shift focus to “a more razor-sharp” face of government’s campaign against illegal loggers, with an emphasis on strengthening DENR’s in-house capabilities to fight illegal logging to its advocacy of citizen participation in its advocacy on reforestation and community-led management of forest resources.

"As I made clear in the National Greening Program, saving our forests can only happen with real participation from the people, especially our forest-based communities. It will not come at the expense of the lives of our co-workers at the DENR or any life for that matter,” Paje said.

The NAILTF was created under Executive Order No. 23 issued by President Benigno Aquino III. It is composed of the secretaries of the DENR, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of National Defense (DND), the PNP Chief, and the AFP Chief of Staff.

  

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its partners are set to hold a Metro Manila Clean Air Summit on February 29, 2012 to draw attention to the adverse impact of air pollution on human health and environment.

Around 300 clean air advocates, including representatives from concerned national agencies, local government units, transport sector and civic groups, are expected to assemble for the summit with the theme, “Usok Mo, Buhay Ko,” which will be held at the Philippine Medical Association (PMA) Auditorium in North Avenue, Quezon City.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje described the event as “a multi-sectoral gathering that will seek commitments from the various sectors to address the problem of air pollution and reduce its health impacts through concrete and doable strategies.”

The summit is being organized by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), along with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA), the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and the Philippine Medical Association, who on December 9, 2011, signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that seeks to strengthen the anti-smoke belching program in Metro Manila in an effort to maintain a reduced particulates in the National Capital Region.

The Clean Air Summit will be highlighted by an hour-long talk show hosted by TV personality Angelique Lazo, featuring officials from key implementers of Republic Act 8749, also known as the Philippine Clean Air Act. Expected to join the discussion include Paje, DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas and officials of the KBP and PMA.

This will be followed by discussions on various approaches in tackling air pollution by concerned agencies and other organizations. Topics to be tackled during the event include health impacts of air pollution, vehicular volume reduction program, fuel quality improvement, and intensified enforcement of anti-smoke belching operations.

The participants are also expected to share on identifying other strategies to achieve cleaner air in the metropolis.

Paje noted the relevance and necessity of holding the summit in light of statistics from the health department showing how illnesses such as acute lower respiratory tract infection, pneumonia, bronchitis, tuberculosis and heart diseases consistently top the list of morbidity and mortality causes in the Philippines.

“Poor air quality affects our health. Reports from the Department of Health suggest that daily exposure to polluted air can be associated with worsening lung problems and increased cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attacks,” Paje said.

He also said that based on a study conducted by the World Bank, it was estimated that around 18 million Filipinos are exposed to air pollution, resulting in an annual national economic loss of P7.6 billion due to human productivity loss. “We need to reverse this trend, or at least put a stop to it not only for the sake of the economy, but more importantly, to improve our quality of life,” he stressed.

  

 

A guidebook designed to make upland farmers become effective entrepreneurs as well as responsible forest stewards was launched by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during the Community-based Forest Management (CBFM) Practitioners Congress held recently at the Fontana Convention Center in Clark, Pampanga.

Entitled, “Guidebook on ENR (environment and natural resources) Enterprises Development and Management”, the handbook provides a step-by-step guide in setting up, managing and sustaining small enterprises dependent on forest resources in the uplands.
The book launching was graced by DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, New Zealand Ambassador Reuben Levermore, Food and Agriculture Organization-Asia Pacific Region Senior Forestry Officer Patrick Durst and FAO Resident Representative Kazuyuki Tsurumi.

In leading the book launch, Paje underscored the mutual dependence between forest communities and the viability of the forests, noting that the guidebook is proof that “there is a link between economic activity and environmental protection.”

He also expressed confidence in the capability of people’s organizations to become effective managers of forest resources. “Providing our upland farmer leaders the opportunity to develop their capabilities to start-up, manage and sustain enterprise activities, I believe that our people’s organizations can become effective managers of our forest resources as well,” Paje said.

According to Forest Management Bureau Director Neria Andin, the handbook was a product of the 3-year project, Enhancing Natural Resource Management through Enterprise Development, which the bureau has implemented since 2008 with support from the New Zealand Air Program and the United Nations-Food and Agriculture Organization (UN-FAO).

Andin said that under the project, eight pilot enterprise activities were implemented in selected Community-based Forest Management (CBFM) areas in the country that served as learning laboratories for the guidebook. These CFBM project sites include the duhat fruit wine making in Bugallon, Pangasinan; small-scale wood industry in Baggao, Cagayan; Roxas, Palawan; and in Catarman, Camiguin; coconut midrib handicraft in Limay, Bataan; abaca and bamboo processing and marketing project in Maasin, Iloilo; rattan furniture making in Capoocan, Leyte; and handicraft making using romblon and nito in San Isidro, Davao Oriental.

“These projects served as our learning laboratories to pilot test the guidebook to ensure that the step-by-step processes of selecting, planning, financing, implementing and sustaining the enterprises are understandable, realistic and doable by the intended target beneficiaries,” Andin explained.

Also included in the guidebook are ways to improve the knowledge and skills of the farmers in conducting market survey, product development, as well as establishing network and linkaging with other government agencies, local government units and financial institutions.

Development activities to ensure the sufficiency of supply of raw materials for their selected enterprises are also discussed in the guidebook.

 

  

 

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje welcomed the declaration of a 4,000-hectare area within the ancestral domain of the Menuvu tribe in the uplands of Balmar, Bukidnon as an indigenous community conserved area or ICCA.

“We are definitely happy with this move of the Menuvu tribe to declare an area within their ancestral domain as a conservation area. For the longest time, we know that our indigenous peoples are culturally and spiritually attached to their environment – the reason for which they continue to revere the mountains, the plants, the animals, even the rivers amidst them which, in the process, worked both ways for the continued protection of the environment and the preservation of the people’s customs and beliefs,” Paje explained.

On February 8, the Menuvu Association led by its head Datu Ampuan Sulda declared the area as “Idsesengilaha” following a nine-day ritual of prayers, chants and dances which climaxed on the full moon, Wednesday. “Idsesengilaha” is a native word which means “sacred place” or in the current context of environmentalism, an indigenous community conserved area or ICCA.

With the declaration, Datu Ampuan stressed that the area, which the tribe has been protecting for the longest time, is now recognized by other stakeholders as a place under strict protection, requiring anyone wishing to enter the area to get permission from the Menuvu Council of Elders. As practiced, the council calls for a ritual or ceremony to be performed prior to giving its approval. “This is part of our local governance system and it plays a crucial role in securing our rights to our land and natural resources,” Datu Ampuan said.

The newly-declared ICCA spans some 4,000 hectares within the 15,000-hectare ancestral domain of the Menuvu, one of Bukidnon’s seven ethnic tribes. It is located in the uplands of Mt. Kalatungan, the country’s 6th highest peak at 2,300 meters above sea level.

The ICCA declaration rites was witnessed by officials of the DENR led by Undersecretary Analiza Teh, representatives of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), non-government organization Philippine Association of Intercultural Development (PAFID), and Presidential Adviser for Environmental Protection Nereus Acosta.

Teh commended the indigenous group for upholding its culture that put premium on conservation. She also acknowledged the indigenous rights of Menuvus to manage their resources, saying that “indigenous peoples have rights and ability to manage their environment and natural resources.”

Teh also assured the local community of DENR’s commitment to support the ICCA as a traditional conservation model that will be replicated, shared and strengthened through the New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP) being implemented by the agency through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB).

For his part, UNDP Country Director Renaud Meyer described the concept of ICCA as “new in the conservation realm”, but not among indigenous peoples and their ancestors who, he said, “have been practicing it for centuries, making it part of their everyday life”.

Meyer also said that the key to the success of the ICCA is hinged on three factors, namely, good partnership between the indigenous community and the local government unit, the cooperation and support of the community, and the commitment of the people working with the project.

He also expressed commitment for the UNDP to broadcast the success of the Menuvu ICCA declaration experience across the Philippines with other IP groups as “it showcases not only nature but also culture and values”.