Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is committed to building opportunities in biotechnology to help address climate change and achieve sustainable and inclusive growth for all Filipinos.

The DENR, currently headed by Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga, made the commitment during the opening program of the 18th National Biotechnology Week (NBW) held on Nov. 21 in Pasay City.

Speaking on behalf of Loyzaga, DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones said biotechnology offers powerful solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change.

With climate change already present and serious, Leones said the global phenomenon “compels us to act expeditiously and wisely, especially since the answer to the climate catastrophe requires systematic transformation in the fusion of various disciplines.”

“Biotechnology is one of the tools that we can use to boost economic growth, create jobs, develop healthcare solutions, improve agri-food systems, and rehabilitate and protect our environment and natural resources,” he pointed out.

The DENR expressed its strong support for the NBW celebration, believing it was an opportune forum for sharing the biotech advancements in the different fields of specialization, and for crafting scientifically informed decisions in the agency’s areas of concern.

The DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), led by Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer, is the official representative of the agency for the said event. ERDB previously hosted the 16th NBW in November 2020.

This year, ERDB hosted sub-events for the NBW celebration from Nov. 21 to 25. These included Enviotech, which features biotechnology research and applications that were presented by various Filipino biotechnology scientists, and Enviocon, a mobile photo essay contest for the youth.

For his part, Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo E. Pascual said that this year’s NBW “takes on a special meaning as the COVID-19 pandemic brought into sharp focus the opportunities that biotechnology may bring.”

“Biotechnology’s breakthrough products and technologies feature multifaceted benefits. Aside from creating vaccines that combat debilitating diseases, biotechnology can produce clean energy, reduce our environmental footprint, feed the hungry, make industrial manufacturing processes safer, cleaner, and more efficient,” Pascual said.

NBW is celebrated every third week of November by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 1414. The weeklong celebration aims to highlight the many contributions of biotechnology in agriculture and food security, equitable health care services, development of industries and business enterprises, sustainable environment, and economic development, among others.

This year’s theme is “Responding to the Challenges: Business Opportunities in Biotechnology.”

Various national government agencies, non-government organizations, state colleges and universities, and private academic institutions participated in the event. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through its Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), has reported significant strides in the areas of protected area management, cave management and wildlife conservation as the country moves toward the post-pandemic era.
BMB Director Natividad Bernardino said that these achievements are “a testament that the importance of conserving wildlife and their natural habitats are now prioritized by communities and policymakers.”
“While we are treading into the post-pandemic era, the BMB—together with DENR field offices—continues to be at the forefront of protecting, conserving, and sustainably managing the country’s flora and fauna,” Bernardino said.
In 2022, the BMB made substantial progress in terms of protected area management with the establishment of seven more protected areas (PAs) under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), which brings to 248 the total number of PAs in the country with an aggregate area of 7.78 million hectares.
All seven PAs were legislated and each was covered by a Republic Act (RA). These are Mt. Arayat Protected Landscape (RA 11684), Mt. Pulag Protected Landscape (RA 11685), Naga-Kabasalan Protected Landscape (RA 11686), Tirad Pass Protected Landscape Act (RA 11687), Banao Protected Landscape (RA 11688), Tugbo Natural Biotic Area (RA 11806), and Sicogon Island Wildlife Sanctuary (RA 11933).
The legislation of new PAs also contributes to the achievement of the Aichi Target 11 of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which calls for improvement and increase in the number of PAs among the parties including the Philippines.
On top of this, 131 PAs have established and maintained ecotourism facilities and amenities to promote ecotourism in these areas. A total of 171 PAs have also established the Integrated Protected Area Fund pursuant to the NIPAS Act. 
For the past five years, an estimated P386.8 million was generated, wherein 75 percent of the amount was retained to the PAs, which translated to more funds for the sustainable management of these areas.
In terms of cave management, the BMB has so far identified 3,432 caves, of which 292 are within PAs.
Existing or known caves must be identified, and shall be supported by providing information such as the local name, general description (elevation, accessibility, etc.), and location using topographic and other maps available.
Among the identified caves, 1,411 were assessed and 864 of which were classified according to their beneficial use.
Meanwhile, intensified wildlife protection efforts and the sustainable management of ecosystems brought 12 species to an improved conservation status. 
The Asian giant softshell turtle (Pelochelys cantorii) has moved from “endangered” to “other threatened” species, while four more species—the Negros horned tree frog (Platymantis negrosensis), Cordilleras cloud frog/ Mt. Data Forest frog (Platymantis subterrestris); Mindanao bleeding-heart (Gallicolumba crinigera); and Luzon water redstart (Rhyacornis bicolor)—were moved from “endangered” to “vulnerable” species.
Seven species, on the other hand, moved from “vulnerable” to “other threatened.” These are the Mindanao fanged frog (Limnonectes magnus); Basilan caecilian (Ichthyophis glandulosus); Mindanao caecilian (Ichthyophis mindanaoensis); Cuming's monitor lizard/ Yellow-headed water monitor (Varanus cumingi); Luzon monitor lizard/ Marbled water monitor (Varanus marmoratus); West Visayan monitor lizard (Varanus nuchalis); and Isarog shrew mouse (Archboldomys luzonensis).
Wildlife Rescue Centers (WRC) also play a crucial role in wildlife protection, as these provide temporary shelter for mistreated and rescued wild animals. 
To date, there are 34 DENR-established WRC and 36 DENR-designated WRC maintained by the DENR field offices.
From 2010 to 2022, the DENR conducted 302 enforcement operations involving 601 violators, with 202 cases filed and 45 convictions secured.
As the “center of the center of marine biodiversity,” the BMB—together with DENR field offices—continues to work on the establishment of the Verde Island Passage (VIP) under the NIPAS. A Protected Area Suitability Assessment (PASA) within the VIP is ongoing to identify and appraise status of various ecosystems, flora and fauna located in Mindoro, Batangas, Marinduque, Romblon and Quezon.
The country’s 1.3 million hectares of corals harbor 500 species of corals and 1,763 reef species. Corals contribute to 70 percent of the fishery productions in the world valued at around P207 billion per year. 
Moreover, the country also has 311,400 hectares of mangrove forest with 42 mangrove species, 498,341 hectares of seagrass beds, and 19 identified seagrass species which contribute 55 percent of the total number of that species in Asia.
“With this immense valuable role of our coastal and marine resources, we should ensure threats to biodiversity are addressed and policies on conservation are enforced,” Bernardino asserted.
The Philippines ranks first in the World Risk Index 2022, with risks identified ranging from earthquakes, hurricanes/typhoons, floods (both coastal and riverine), drought, sea-level rise, tsunamis, and conflict. 
Most, if not all of the biodiversity sector’s major activities, are characterized as nature-based solutions. By ensuring natural ecosystems are protected and wildlife conserved, the country’s resiliency against climate change and disaster risks is strengthened. ###
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is stepping up its collaboration with local government units (LGUs) and communities in maintaining clean and trash-free esteros and rivers in the National Capital Region (NCR) through the annual region-wide search for the most improved waterways.
Now on its third year, the Gawad Taga-Ilog (GTI): Search for the Most Improved Estero seeks to recognize the most improved esteros or waterways in Metro Manila and honor their respective barangays for the efforts. 
GTI is part of the initiatives of the DENR in tapping LGUs and communities into the greater goal of rehabilitating Manila Bay.
During the launch of GTI 3.0 in Quezon City last November 15, OIC Assistant Secretary for Field Operations - Luzon and Visayas Gilbert C. Gonzales said that although significant accomplishments were achieved ever since the 2019 launch for the Battle for Manila Bay, challenges in domestic sewage remained.
 “As much as we want to improve the water quality in Manila Bay, it has to start from the source. Collaboration, especially with the LGUs, is necessary so we can work together and improve the water quality of Manila Bay,” said Gonzales.
For the GTI contest, LGUs will nominate their chosen estero or waterway within their jurisdiction. Nominees will be judged according to the LGUs’ management of their solid and liquid waste, informal settler families and illegal structures, habitat and resources, and sustainability and partnership.
The search will run from November 2022 to February 2023 and awarding will be in March 2023, to coincide with World Water Day.
Recognizing the exemplary accomplishments of some LGUs in the past years, Gonzales said that GTI is DENR’s “simple way of thanking them for helping the agency improve the conditions of our environment and making communities more livable and safer.”
GTI also aims to encourage Metro Manila residents to adopt a sense of ownership and a positive mindset towards their responsibility to maintain clean waterways.
Apart from GTI, sustainable efforts of the DENR in supporting LGUs and communities include Communication, Education, and Public Awareness (CEPA) activities for the communities and the Dalaw Turo program for the youth.
Meanwhile, DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan announced that the GTI will include a new category this year called Hall of Fame—or “winner among the winners” — where the DENR-NCR will choose among the past winners and see if cleanliness were sustained and maintained by the respective barangays.
Caancan said that all barangays in Metro Manila are automatically qualified to join the GTI.
She emphasized that the cleanup and rehabilitation of Manila Bay and its tributaries lie on the empowerment and autonomy of local governments.  
For this purpose, Caancan said the DENR-NCR will continue not only in providing policy and technical support to LGUs but also in institutionalizing activities that formally recognize their efforts. ###
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has released the guidelines and criteria for judging for Gawad Taga-ilog (GTI): Search for the Most Improved Estero, an annual environmental competition among local government units (LGUs) in the National Capital Region (NCR).
Now in its third year, GTI seeks to recognize the most improved esteros or waterways in Metro Manila and honor their respective barangays for their efforts. 
During the launch of GTI 3.0 held in Quezon City last Nov. 15, the DENR announced the guidelines and criteria for judging as it urged barangays in all 16 cities and one municipality of Metro Manila to nominate their chosen estero.
In the same event, OIC Assistant Secretary for Field Operations - Luzon and Visayas Gilbert C. Gonzales commended the DENR-NCR for recognizing the efforts of Metro Manila LGUs in addressing pollution in waterways through the GTI initiative.
“For the last two years, the DENR-NCR has been successful in encouraging the LGUs and other sectors to join us in addressing waste management through GTI. We aim that this will continue, and we can be witnesses on how our partners join forces with us in every little way that they’re doing,” Gonzales said.
Under the guidelines, all barangays in Metro Manila are automatically qualified to join. 
The barangay chieftains or their duly designated representatives shall nominate one estero or waterway within their jurisdiction and submit the same to the DENR-NCR using the GTI nomination form, together with the geo-tagged photos of the nominated waterway.
The search will run from November 2022 to February 2023, while the awarding will be in March 2023, to coincide with World Water Day. 
Nominees will be judged according to the LGUs’ management of their solid and liquid waste, informal settler families and illegal structures, habitat and resources, and sustainability and partnership. This set of criteria was based on the four clusters stated in the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy.
For the solid waste management category, which is 25% of the total score, nominees shall be judged based on a fully functional Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee, full implementation of segregated collection, fully functioning materials recovery facility/system, implementation of barangay-based solid waste management IEC or information, education, and communication campaign, and the conduct of regular cleanup in compliance with Department of the Interior and Local Government Memorandum Circular No. 2019-09.
Liquid waste management, which is 15% of the total score, shall be based on the estero’s physical characteristics such as turbidity and odor, absence of unregulated livestock, the LGUs’ conduct of interventions to improve water quality, inspection of households for presence of septic tank, adoption of Sewage and Septage Management Ordinance, implementation of IEC on desludging, water management, and prevention and pollution control.
Another 15% is for management of informal settler families (ISFs) and illegal structures, which shall consider the absence of ISF and illegal structures within legal easement; maintenance and protection activities of cleared areas; existing policies to ensure no illegal entrants; implementation of interventions such as fences and signages; and conduct of regular IEC to strengthen the maintenance and protection of cleared areas.
The same category shall also include presence of ISFs and illegal structures; legal easements delineated; conduct of census tagging and validation; conduct of IEC to ensure prevention and pollution control; and total length of waterways occupied by ISFs and with illegal structures.
Comprising 20% of the total score is the habitat and resource management, which covers the establishment of functional green spaces/linear park; aesthetics in urban design; attractiveness of the area; and community participation on DENR- and LGU-led tree growing activities.
Finally, 25% of the total score is for sustainability and partnership management, which include partnership with neighboring barangays for the estero clean-up and development; partnerships with community stakeholders; involvement of barangay residents volunteer on estero clean-ups and/or estero-related development projects; inclusion in the barangay’s annual budget and annual investment plan or financial plan on estero clean-up and/or estero related development projects and programs.
Also included in this category are estero clean-ups and/or estero related development projects spearheaded by women, youth, PWD, or senior citizen sectors; existing ordinance directly addressing the clean-up and development of estero in the barangay; implementation of any innovative interventions or management schemes related to estero clean-ups and/or development projects, and conduct of IEC activities.
DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan announced that the GTI will include a new category this year called Hall of Fame—or “winner among the winners” — where the DENR-NCR will choose from past winners and see if cleanliness was sustained and maintained by the respective barangays. ###    

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) featured three of its foreign-assisted projects under the forestry sector in a knowledge-sharing forum of lessons learned, good practices, innovations and success stories (LGIS).

Organized by the Foreign-Assisted and Special Projects Service (FASPS), the three-episode forum themed, "Addressing forest degradation through natural resources management: The Negros and Panay Island Experience" was held in Region 6 and live streamed via Zoom and the DENR’s official Facebook page on November 8-10, 2022.

This is the fourth LGIS forum put together by FASPS since 2018 and it has been serving as a venue to showcase the experiences of foreign-assisted project implementers, managers, development partners and local stakeholders for public awareness.

Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones recognized the forum as “a reflection of the DENR’s aspiration to become a learning organization that is equipped in generating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, as well as modifying its approach to reflect new knowledge.”

“This forum demonstrated the DENR’s commitment to involve all stakeholders, implementers and development partners to lay the groundwork for innovations, collaborations and solutions,” said FASPS Director Al Orolfo.

The first episode of the forum featuring the Forest and Climate Protection Project in Panay - Phase II (ForClim II) tackled local subsidy contracts with the local government unit (LGU) on forest protection.

Reportedly, a total of 2,214 hectares of established plantations have been protected through Bantay Gubat, which was organized by the LGU through the project.

ForClim II also paved the way for the creation of two resolutions: one, on the adoption of the ten-year Forest Land Use Plan, and another on declaring four upland barangays as a critical habitat area of the municipality of Ibajay in Aklan province.

The second episode focused on the various natural resource management modalities used in Panay and Negros islands to rehabilitate their forests through the Community-Based Forest and Mangrove Management Project in Negros and Panay (CBFMMP).

A notable one is CBFMMP’s Rattan modality in the municipality of Carles in Iloilo, which is considered to have paved the way for the declaration and legislation of the 283-hectare Sicogon Island Wildlife Sanctuary under Republic Act 11933. Sicogon Island has been established as Carles’ rattan plantation site as part of CBFMMP’s forest and mangrove rehabilitation component.

Overall, the implementation of the project in its target areas in Regions 6 and 7 has resulted in the establishment and maintenance of 6,827 hectares of agroforestry, assisted natural regeneration, mangrove, rattan, and reforestation areas for production and protection purposes.

The third episode featured the Forestland Management Project (FMP) which adopted community-based forest management strategies aimed at integrating conservation and development-oriented activities in the project’s targeted areas.

Testimonies from members of local POs revealed that their community was rebel-infested and quite hard to reach. Consequently, trade and access to economic and social services including medical services were limited.

Moreover, Kaingin was a major source of livelihood for many and locals perceived FMP and DENR projects in general as threats. They feared the government will take away their land as well as their source of livelihood.

FMP was able to encourage voluntary participation of these hesitant communities due to effective information, education and communication or IEC campaign and other interventions such as establishment of tree and agroforestry plantations, provision of agroforestry support facilities, construction of farm-to-market roads, enterprise development, and capacity-building activities.

The project stakeholders saw the vision of FMP and the true purpose of DENR projects which is to boost collaborations among DENR, LGUs, and people’s organizations, and empower local communities to become self-sufficient in generating sustainable income, while also capacitating them and igniting their determination to protect their environment and natural resources.

One of the highlights of the episode is the testimony of a former “kaingero” or slash-and-burn farmer who changed his ways and became a participant and beneficiary of the project.

Orolfo expressed his appreciation of the success stories shared by the project resource persons, as these can serve as valuable inputs to the creation of geospatial maps of the region.

The recorded livestream of the entire forum is available on the DENR’s official Facebook page. ###