Press Releases

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) on Wednesday, June 9, officially commenced the Pasig River Dredging Project, a major venture to rehabilitate one of the largest river systems connected to Manila Bay.

The signing of the memorandum of agreement (MOA), held at the Petron Sales Training Office in Manila, signifies the start of the project and the commitment of DENR and SMC to work together in the dredging and cleanup of Pasig River.

"This project does not only directly complement our ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay, but one can just imagine the positive impacts the cleanup and rehabilitation of Pasig River could bring to the majority of our population and to the ecosystems that connect to it," said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

The dredging project, which is part of SMC's commitment to the Adopt-a-River Program, aims to improve Pasig River's water flow and mitigate flooding by deepening and widening the shallow and narrow portions of the waterbody.

The ongoing Tullahan-Tinajeros River Rehabilitation Project is SMC's first Adopt-a-River partnership with the DENR.

"Indeed, this is another significant step towards our ultimate goal of restoring and enhancing the environmental integrity of Pasig River, one of the most iconic and important waterways in the country," Cimatu said.

In the agreement, DENR will provide the technical expertise for the project while SMC will provide manpower support and dredging equipment.

The implementation of the dredging project will also involve the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Philippine Coast Guard, whose officials have expressed support for the project during the MOA signing.

SMC President Ramon Ang regarded the event as a "very historic gathering" as representatives from various government agencies, along with the local governments of Manila and Mandaluyong, were also in attendance.

After the MOA signing, a site and equipment inspection for the initial operations were also held in the former Pandacan Oil Terminal.

The SMC has identified the narrow and shallow portions of the river along the Pandacan-Paco area, Estrella in Makati City, and near C5 Road, Manila Bay, and EDSA, as priority dredging sites.

The SMC said that larger equipment will be used as the Pasig River is a much bigger river system compared to the Tullahan-Tinajeros River.

Ang said that SMC has invested in a cutter suction dredger—which can dredge 1,000 tons per hour, 10,000 tons per 10 hours a day, or 3 million tons a year—and hopper barge for high volume dredging and transfer of dredged materials to a designated site.

He said they are also looking into conducting percussion drilling for areas that are difficult to dredge due to heavy materials.

Under the MOA, the DENR will also help in the evaluation of soil test results to be conducted by the SMC to identify the location and find the best usage for the dredged materials.

Moreover, it will assist in the application for an environmental compliance certificate or ECC for the relocation site of dredged materials.

"On behalf of the DENR, I would like to extend our sincerest thanks to SMC for its unwavering and continuing commitment to various environmental causes," Cimatu said. #

 

Five workers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), along with a diocesan priest deputized as a forest protection officer, were inducted into the roster of environmental heroes by the Environmental Heroes Foundation Inc. (EHFI) during the World Environment Day celebration on June 5.

Those honored were DENR workers Joselyn Aleste Bugaring, officer-in-charge of the Kalinga Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office; Norberto Mabini, Land Inspector I in Lianga, Surigao del Sur; Rolando Sinday, tree marker in Lianga, Surigao del Sur; Isidro Roluna, tree marker in Tandag, Surigao del Sur; Jessie Comendador, a laborer in Los Baños, Laguna; and deputized forest protection officer in Bukidnon Fr. Nerilito Dazo Sator.

They were honored at the DENR Heroes' Park in Visayas Avenue, Quezon City in physical and virtual ceremonies on June 5.

Families of the honorees received the posthumous awards consisting of plaques of recognition and livelihood assistance amounting to P1.8 million.

The EHFI said the assistance will be given to the honorees' families in three tranches of P600,000 or P100,000 per family from 2021 to 2023.

"Though our intensified actions against violators of environmental laws are taking a toll on our people, we will not relent. With these, we urge Congress to support us in our call for the creation of an Enforcement Bureau that will give the DENR stronger enforcement powers," DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said in a message read by DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito Antonio de Leon.

De Leon said his office is working in coordination with the Office of the President to certify as urgent a bill for the creation of the Environmental Enforcement and Protection Bureau (EPEB).

In the meantime, he said that Cimatu has ordered the creation of an interim enforcement bureau to be called "Environmental Enforcement and Protection Service" to provide "a more coherent and focused body to attend to the enforcement activity" of the DENR.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, chair of the EHFI board of trustees, pointed out that the foundation has "a clear-eyed vision from the beginning that most of the lives that will be lost in this battle to preserve our environment, especially our forest, will come from the rank and file employees and officials of the (DENR)."

He lamented that the DENR rank and file employees are "unarmed, virtually defenseless" against "powerful people who are used to imposing their illegal will and immoral motives from the barrel of a gun."

DENR Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and EHFI executive director Daniel Darius Nicer said the six honorees comprised the second batch of environmental heroes given recognition by the EFHI.

The organization has also conferred posthumous recognition to five individuals in 2016.

"We will be giving P600,000 of your prize to the families of our environmental heroes this year and another P600,000 each year for the next two years," Nicer said, citing the P4-million donation from the UNTV Foundation after the DENR Warriors came out as champions in the UNTV Cup Season 8 held in February 2020, and named EHFI as the team’s charity-recipient of its P4-million prize money.

Nicer said the EHFI board has already authorized the foundation to receive cash donations from donors and feelers have already been sent to possible donors "so that we can augment the funding of the foundation."

"We welcome donations from the private sector, NGOs (non-government organizations), and other entities for us to continue this work," Nicer said, noting that the EHFI criteria have already been amended to include those who are living but "worthy recipients" with outstanding contribution in protecting the environment.

EHFI board members include former DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, retired Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, GMA Network chair Felipe Gozon, and former Civil Service Commission (CSC) chair and currently Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

The EHFI, a non-stock, non-profit organization managing an endowment fund for relatives of DENR heroes, was conceptualized in 2012 by Paje with P5 million from the President’s Social Fund as seed money for the foundation.

The CSC also donated P314,000 generated from a fun run it organized in 2011 during the 111th anniversary of the Philippine Civil Service. ###

 

A policy solution being implemented by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to effectively minimize the adverse effects of chemical exposure on human health and the environment has been named as one of the top candidates for the Future Policy Award 2021.

Out of the 55 policies from 36 countries that were nominated, the DENR's Administrative Order (DAO) 2013-24, or the Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, was chosen as one of the 12 policies from five continents that have been shortlisted for the award.

Dubbed as the "Oscar on Best Policies," the Future Policy Award of the World Future Council recognizes countries with "the most effective policy solutions" that aim to abate the detrimental effects of chemical exposure to human health and the environment.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu welcomed the inclusion of the Philippines, saying that it is an indication that the government is doing right in its campaign to "regulate, phase-out, or ban chemicals" to eliminate risks to public health, workplace and the environment.

"We are elated to know that our effort to protect our people from the harmful effects of chemicals has been recognized, not to mention, on the international stage," Cimatu said.

"This just shows that we are on the right track as we regulate, phase-out, and ban chemicals for the serious risks it could bring to public health and our environment," he added.

Section 4 of DAO 2013-24 mandates the prohibition of the use of lead and lead compounds in the production/manufacturing of packaging for food and drink, fuel additives, water pipes, toys, school supplies, cosmetics, and paints.

The policy has ordered the prohibition of production of paints--as a pigment, drying agent, or for some intentional use--with more than 90 parts per million or ppm, set as the threshold limit.

A moratorium for the production beyond the threshold limit was enforced since the implementation of the order in 2013.

Lead in paints, however, was allowed for three years (2013-2016) for architectural, decorative, household applications, and six years for industrial applications (2013-2019).

Beyond the set transitional period, the use of lead in paints will be prohibited.

According to the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau, lead in paints is a global issue and is being discussed in several international fora, where the Philippines has shared its experience in phasing out lead in paints.

The Future Policy Award, the first and only award that recognizes policies for the benefit of present and future generations on an international level, is an annual event by the World Future Council since 2010.

Aside from the Philippines' Chemical Control Order for Lead and Lead Compounds, policies from Colombia, Cuba, Denmark, Ethiopia, India, Korea, Kyrgyzstan, the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Sweden, and the United States were also shortlisted for the award this year.

The winners of the Future Policy Award 2021 will be announced on June 29 while a virtual awarding ceremony will be held on July 6. ###

In celebration of the 23rd year of the Philippine Eagle Week (PEW), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu acknowledged the role that Indigenous Peoples (IPs) play as stewards of the forests especially our national bird, the critically endangered Philippine eagle that maintains the ecological balance of the country's vast forests.

"The Philippine eagle's presence in the forests is intrinsically connected to the web of life, in the lives of our brethren katutubos and resonates in their everyday lives, deeming the eagle sacred and providing utmost protection from harm. For it is through these indigenous practices, we are able to learn from their culture and beliefs and understand how wildlife and humans can co-exist harmoniously," Cimatu said during the celebration on June 4.

The event was organized by the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) in partnership with the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), Haribon Foundation, and the University of the Philippines-Diliman, Institute of Biology.

"There is no opportune time to learn how to take care of our fragile environment, especially during this pandemic than now. Cimatu further added, “what better way to learn of these stories through local stewards who serve as our eyes and ears in the forests".

The theme of this year's celebration, "The Philippine Eagle and Indigenous Peoples: Protecting our forests, protecting our future," highlights the vital role of IPs in protecting the eagles’ forest homes and especially the most endangered wild fauna, such as the Philippine eagle.

During the event, various IP communities—together with the DENR regional and field offices, PEF, and local government units—shared their inspirational stories of Philippine eagle rescues, rehabilitation, and releases.

Hailed as "Local Biodiversity Champions," five IP communities, which include the Manuvu Tinonanon of Arakan, North Cotabato; Bukidnon (Higaonon) of Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon; Samahan ng Bantay Kalikasan sa Lupaing Ninuno (SBKALN); Indigenous Mandaya of Pantuyan, Caraga; Obu Manuvu of Davao City; and the Bagobo Tagabawa in Mt. Apo, Davao City, presented their own stories of hope, success, and goodwill.

Also, a new partner in conservation, the Philippine Fauna Art Society (PhilFAS) through its founder Ms. Bing Famoso presented a virtual art exhibit, "Haring Agila: An Online Art Exhibition," which will be live streamed via their Facebook page will run until the end of the PEW on June 10, 2021.

For his part, DENR Undersecretary for Special Concerns and concurrent DENR-BMB Director Edilberto DC Leonardo said that the Philippine Eagle Week "reminds us that conservation of wildlife is every Filipino’s duty, and that this fragile world is not ours alone."

“As this magnificent bird of prey continues to uphold the ecological balance of our forests, we reach out to every Filipino to adopt a culture of respect for all life forms, most especially for our national bird," Leonardo said.

The PEW is observed from June 4 to 10 of every calendar year by virtue of Proclamation No. 79. This declaration hopes to promote awareness on the importance of the Philippine eagle as a biological indicator of our forest ecosystems, a national symbol and a truly unique heritage.

Known as the largest of the extant eagles in the world in terms of length and wing surface, the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) is currently classified as a "critically endangered" raptor in the Updated National List of Philippine Threatened Fauna or the DENR Administrative Order 2019-09) and by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature or IUCN.

The wild population of the species throughout the archipelago remains precarious at approximately 400 pairs. Hunting and loss of forest habitats remain the primary threats to birds’ survival. ###

 

Ahead of the World Environment Day celebration on June 5, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), together with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Philippine National Police-Maritime Group (PNP-MG), on Friday, June 4, conducted a joint inspection on the environmental compliance of marine vessels at Manila Bay.

Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda led the team in the inspection of marine vessels docked in Navotas fish port and batil or wooden cargo vessels in Delpan, Port Area, Manila.

PCG National Capital Region-Central Luzon (NCR-CL) Commodore Leovigildo Panopio, PCG NCR-CL spokesperson Lieutenant Michael John Encina, and personnel of PNP-MG under the leadership of Director Police Brig. Gen. John Mitchell Jamili assisted in the operation.

"We are strengthening the coordination and cooperation of the (Philippine) Coast Guard, (PNP) Maritime Group, and DENR to fully enforce the laws that will really protect our oceans," Antiporda stressed.

Antiporda, who is also the head of the Manila Bay Anti-Pollution Task Force, visited the shipyards in Navotas fish port where large marine vessels undergoing repair and maintenance are parked.

He said that the wastewater coming from the shipyard could include toxic compounds and may cause harmful effects to the ocean particularly the marine organisms.

"There is no clear protection for our oceans from what we have seen in the shipyards that we have visited," Antiporda pointed out.

"When it rains, the rust removed from the vessels will go directly to the ocean, thus contaminates the water," he added.

The DENR official said they will be calling the attention of marine vessel owners in shipyards in Navotas, including those operating within the Manila Bay region.

"We will summon the respective owners of the shipyard in Navotas area," Antiporda said. "Of course, within the Manila Bay area where there are established shipyards, we will also get their attention and ask for their support in our campaign to address the pollution in Manila Bay.”

He also said that if these owners will not abide by the orders of the DENR, they will be left with no choice but to file charges against them.

Meanwhile, Antiporda also met with the captains of the batils docked at Delpan Port Area in Manila, which transport cargo to and from Palawan, to discuss the crew's wastewater and solid waste management system.

"Despite our campaign to clean our oceans, if the sea vessel operators will not help in this endeavor, we will not be able to clean it up," Antiporda said.

The DENR-Environmental Management Bureau has conducted water sampling in Navotas Fish Port to find out if chemical components, such as lead, iron, and copper are present in the waters near the shipyards.

They also took water samples in Delpan Port to assess the water quality in the area based on its fecal coliform content. ###