Press Releases

 

In preparation for the upcoming 4th National Environmental Law Enforcement (NELE) Summit on July 14-16, 2021, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) held a pre-event on July 7, Wednesday, to highlight the detrimental extent of illegal wildlife trade in the country.

For the pre-event, DENR undersecretaries Benny D. Antiporda, Edilberto D. Leonardo, and Benito Antonio T. De Leon, together with Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Wildlife Resources Division Chief Atty. Theresa Tenazas tackled the different aspects and extent of the illegal wildlife trade in a media briefing.

Topics that were discussed included the challenges of the DENR’s wildlife enforcement officers, online illegal wildlife trade, salient points to make the Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resource Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 more stringent, its context and threats, policy gaps, and its proposed revisions for amendment.

Commonly traded species including the illegal wildlife trading hot spots and strategies for combating illegal wildlife trade were also answered during the short event.

The DENR execs also explained the importance of the upcoming NELE Summit, saying that a workshop was conducted last March 11-12 to study the enforcement of green laws (forestry, flora and fauna), blue laws (water bodies such as estuaries, rivers, lakes, bays and oceans), brown laws (mining, land, and solid waste management), prosecution, and the roles of supporting agencies before the actual event.

"Hopefully, during this pre-event for the upcoming environmental law enforcement summit, we can make the Filipino people realize the magnitude of what we are lobbying and continuously advocating," DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

The NELE Summit aims to present the accomplishments of environmental law enforcement such as laws and policies, implementing guidelines, programs, and tools, and come up with a new NELE Action Plan for 2022-2027.

It also serves as a venue for ensuring continuous coordination and cooperation among the environmental law enforcement agencies and for giving recognition to partner agencies and institutions, as well as individuals.

Cimatu said that to sustain the momentum from last Wednesday’s (June 30) Senate hearing on proposed bills to strengthen RA 9147, the DENR "must continue to reverberate the drumbeat of calls to enact a law that will provide a more stringent legal framework to punish illegal wildlife traders."
"The sophistication of these illegal wildlife traders gives us the sense of urgency to clamor for the immediate legislation of the Senate bills concerning this matter," he said.

Currently, illegal wildlife trade in the Philippines is estimated to cost P50 billion a year, which includes the market value of wildlife and its resources, their ecological role and value, damage to habitats incurred during poaching, and loss in potential ecotourism revenues.

Over the last 10 years, DENR also confiscated P248-million worth of wildlife specimens.

Cimatu said the figures are "alarming" and could "invite more criminal minds and unscrupulous individuals, especially during this time of crisis—if they are left with merely a slap in the wrists."

Currently, a substitute House Bill titled "An Act Providing for the Conservation and Protection of Wildlife Resources and their Habitats, and Appropriating Funds Therefore, Repealing for this Purpose Republic Act No. 9147" or the "Wildlife Resources Conservation And Protection Act," sponsored by Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato and 15 other representatives, has passed the House Committee on Appropriations last May 26.

Senate Bills 2078 and 2079, authored by Senators Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri, respectively, were recently tackled in a public hearing presided by the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change, with the Committee on Finance and Committee on Sustainable Development Goals, Innovations, and Futures Thinking. ###

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called for the protection of peatlands in the ASEAN region citing their important role in preventing haze pollution and mitigating the impact of climate change.

While peatlands only cover three percent of the Earth’s land surface, Cimatu pointed out that peatlands can store twice as much carbon as all of the forests on the planet combined if they are kept in their natural state.

"This is why protecting peatlands in our region is of global significance. Keeping the ASEAN peatlands in their natural state, however, is a great challenge, given population pressures and the competition over the uses of land and water resources that they generate," Cimatu said in a video message during the 6th Meeting of the ASEAN Task Force on Peatlands (ATFP) on June 30.

"Despite the current pandemic that hinders us from doing in-person meetings, I am optimistic that through these virtual sessions, we will able to concretely chart the way forward for our regional programs and projects in peatland management," he added.

The ASEAN region is home to about 27.4 million hectares of peatlands.

These comprise 56 percent of global tropical peatlands, which can store an estimated 68 billion tons of carbon or 14 percent of the carbon stored in peatlands globally.

The Philippines has two well-known peatlands—the Leyte Sab-a Basin Peatland in Alangalang and Sta. Fe, Leyte, and the Caimpugan Peat Swamp Forest in Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Agusan del Sur. These are listed as part of the tropical peatlands in the ASEAN region and cover approximately 20,000 hectares.

Cimatu said the adoption of the 2006-2020 ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS) promoted the sustainable management of peatlands through collective actions and enhanced cooperation to support and sustain local livelihoods, and reduce the risk of fire and associated haze.

The APMS and its programs are being implemented by the ASEAN Member States with the ATFP as the overseer.

It aims to enhance public awareness and capacity on peatlands; address transboundary haze pollution and environmental degradation; promote sustainable management of peatlands; and promote regional cooperation.

The Philippines, through the DENR, hosted a series of meetings on peatlands--the Third Programme Steering Committee (PSC 3) of the Sustainable Use of Peatland and Haze Mitigation in ASEAN, PSC 3 of the Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia, and the 6th Meeting of the ASEAN Task Force on Peatlands or ATFP 6.

DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Atty. Jonas R. Leones served as chair of the ATFP 6 and the associated PSC meetings.

The meetings were attended by representatives from the ASEAN member-states; donors such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development, European Union, Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; and implementing partners such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Center for International Forestry Research, Global Environment Centre, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, and World Resources Institute.

The DENR's Biodiversity Management Bureau headed the Philippine delegation as the National Focal Point of the ATFP with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) as the Alternate National Focal Point.

As peat fires are usually associated with forest and wildland fires, the BFP serves as the country’s primary agency that ensures the prevention and/or control of these fires.

The meetings of the ATFP aim to coordinate and strengthen the efforts of ASEAN member-states in the protection, conservation, and sustainable use of peatland in the region.

It also serves as a venue to update where the member-states are in terms of implementation of the APMS in relation to their respective National Action Plan on Peatlands.

For his part, Undersecretary for Special Concerns and concurrent BMB Director Edilberto D. Leonardo said that the DENR was "able to continue raising awareness on peatlands with the use of social media, and webinars."

Representing the Philippines as Head of Delegation in the ASEAN-wide meeting, Leonardo presented the updates on the status and implementation of the country's National Action Plan on Peatlands.

"We are gearing towards the way forward to solve these challenges in managing and conserving Philippine peatlands. This includes communication, education and public awareness campaigns, mobilization of resources for the mapping and inventory of peatlands, lobbying for the legislation of Wetland and Peatland Bills, partnership with different stakeholders, among others," Leonardo said.

The ASEAN-wide series of meetings on peatlands were held from June 28 to 30 via Zoom teleconferencing. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) calls for stricter rules in the monitoring and reporting of sewage discharge of marine vessels to ensure the effective implementation of the Manila Bay rehabilitation program.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns and Manila Bay Anti-Pollution Task Force Head Benny D. Antiporda suggested this to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to prevent pollution from sewage during a recent meeting along with the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB), shipyard associations, and marine vessel owners.

"In six years, a lot has changed already. Marine vessels have already increased in number and our population has grown. Maybe it would be better if we talk about the solution, which is coming up with a suited policy on how to control or stop the pollution in Manila Bay," Antiporda told the PCG.

He suggested the need to have a more thorough data monitoring and reporting of sewage from the source, treatment, collection, coordination with agencies, and disposal to sufficiently support the Manila Bay rehabilitation.

"We cannot track the vessels if they discharge it within Manila Bay or outside the bay. Maybe we could come up with something that could safeguard the bay from discharges," Antiporda explained.

PCG National Capital Region-Central Luzon Commodore Leovigildo Panopio said “the PCG takes the task of marine environmental protection seriously.”

He added the agency is currently formulating programs and policies concerning the enforcement of various laws and regulations aimed at the protection of the marine ecology.

He added that there is an ongoing review of their Memorandum Circulars (MCs).

PCG Lieutenant Precious Omalsa said that there should be no discharges of sewage from the vessels in the Manila Bay region since it will not satisfy the ruling under the PCG MC 10-14.

In the ruling, ships discharging comminuted and disinfected/treated sewage should be at a "distance of more than four nautical miles from the nearest shoreline."

Meanwhile, ships discharging sewage that is not comminuted or disinfected/treated should be at a "distance of more than 12 nautical miles from the nearest shoreline."

Omalsa cited vessels that are four nautical miles from Metro Manila but are two or three nautical miles from Bataan, which means discharges are still within the Manila Bay region.

"Cleaning up the bay is not literally getting a pail of water and filtering it. It is more of stopping or minimizing the pollution, for the environment, for nature to heal itself. But sad to say, due to too much pollution, it cannot heal itself anymore," Antiporda added.

The meeting was held to ensure the compliance of marine vessel owners and organizations to the memorandum and to come up with measures on how the maritime sector can help the government in its ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay. ###


Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGUs) Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said that the agency has long been undertaking preventive measures and rehabilitation efforts in the different river systems in the country, including the Pasig River.

Antiporda issued the statement to clarify a global study labeling rivers in the Philippines as top plastic emitters.

"Again, even prior to the publication of the said study, the DENR has already launched various efforts on environmental protection and conservation under Secretary Roy A. Cimatu's leadership," Antiporda said during a press conference on June 28.

The Ocean Cleanup-led study, which was published in the international journal Science Advances, has named rivers in the Philippines as among the top 10 sources of ocean plastic pollution. Pasig River has been identified as the top plastic emitter.

Antiporda said that the study, which used a probabilistic approach and was based on secondary studies, did not reflect the actual condition of the rivers.

He stressed that with strong-willed leadership and efforts to mitigate pollution under the present administration, the study would show a different result.

Antiporda explained that solid waste management that includes plastic wastes is being addressed in the tributaries to the ocean not only through various mitigation strategies, technologies, law enforcement but also in manpower.

The DENR continues to support LGUs in establishing their materials recovery facilities (MRFs).
So far, 11,546 MRFs have been built, serving 14,450 barangays nationwide.

This year, the DENR has completed the closure of all 335 illegally operating dumpsites in the country despite the restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of 2020, 241 sanitary landfills have been established. The DENR has also formed the Coalition of Solid Waste Management Providers for a more effective approach in solid waste management.

The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), chaired by Cimatu, has also approved the solid waste management plans (SWM) of 22 LGUs as of May 2021, bringing the total of approved SWM plans to 1,082 or 63 percent of its target nationwide.

According to Antiporda, over 1,333 estero rangers were also commissioned by the DENR-National Capital Region for the cleanup of waterways and water bodies in the region.

He also noted that the Manila Bay Rehabilitation, which started in 2019, entailed cleaning up all waterways that serve as tributaries to the bay, which includes the Pasig River.

The Pasig River Coordinating and Management Office has deployed more than 100 River Warriors and River Patrollers to retrieve solid waste and other floating debris from waterways within the Pasig River System and guard the river against violators.

From January to May 2021, cleanup operations conducted in Pasig River have led to the retrieval of 136,564 sacks or around 4,096,920 kilograms of solid wastes.

Last year, a total of 216,000 sacks equivalent to seven tons of solid wastes were removed from February to December.

Antiporda also cited Estero de San Antonio Abad and Estero de Magdalena as some of the esteros cleared of solid waste.

“We have done our part in dealing with this solid waste problem of the country. In this present administration, you can see that it is only President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Secretary Cimatu who really cared for our waterways," Antiporda said. ###

 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu plans to put up a compliant sanitary landfill (SLF) in the province of Cavite to help manage its garbage problem that is affecting the ongoing Manila Bay rehabilitation project.

Cimatu, who is chair of the Manila Bay Task Force, and some DENR officials met with Cavite Governor Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla and the mayors of Cavite province to discuss ways to encourage their cooperation in addressing solid waste and water quality management issues in the six major river systems in the province.

During the event, DENR Calabarzon Regional Executive Director Nilo B. Tamoria identified Cavite’s six major rivers as Imus River, Zapote River, Rio Grande-Ylang-Ylang River, Cañas River, Labac River and Maragondon River, all of which empty out into the historic bay.

“We cannot complete the rehabilitation of Manila Bay if we will not solve the garbage problem in the province. There is a very big connection between that,” Cimatu told Cavite officials during their meeting held at Oasis Hotel in Imus City on June 24.

“The only way for us to solve the problem of Manila Bay is to solve the garbage problem and water quality of the rivers in Cavite,” he added.

Present at the meeting were mayors from the cities of Cavite, Gen. Trias and Trece Martires, and the municipalities of Amadeo, GMA, Indang, Mendez, Naic, Silang, and Tanza.

Remulla said solid waste management is the number one problem of Cavite when it comes to the environment, as he noted that an estimated 50 percent of solid waste in the province goes to its rivers accounting to approximately 2,000 tons a day, of which 90 percent goes to Manila Bay.

The provincial chief executive disclosed that 21 of the 23 cities and municipalities of the province “do not have the capacity to put up their own solid waste facility because of the limitations of land” of which he appealed for the DENR to help in setting up an SLF.

Cimatu, explained that due to the recent rainfalls, trash from various waterways including those from the rivers of Cavite drift to Manila Bay, countering the latest significant improvements in the Baywalk area in terms of coliform level and solid waste collection.

He added that the evident increase in garbage in the rivers may be attributed to the closure of all dumpsites in the province in compliance with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“I’d like to appeal to the Mayors of Cavite to please help us,” Cimatu said, as he pointed out that under the law, local government units (LGUs) are primarily responsible for waste segregation and disposal.

Meanwhile, DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGUs Concerns and Cavite Cluster Task Force head Benny D. Antiporda suggested some strategies that the LGUs may implement to address the garbage problem in their respective localities.

These include having “environmental marshals” in the barangays, influencing behavioral change, enforcement of policies and city ordinances, and checking the environmental compliance of various industries and establishments in their respective areas of responsibility.

Antiporda said the DENR is committed to help the LGUs to complement their ongoing cleanup efforts like installing trash traps, employing additional river rangers, and managing the wastes generated by informal settlers.

Also present during the meeting were City Environment and Natural Resources Officers; Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officers; and representatives from the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, Manila Bay Coordinating Office, and regional offices of the DENR, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Environmental Management Bureau, and Department of the Interior and Local Government. ###