Press Releases

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna urged the candidates in the 2022 national and local elections to clean up and dispose of campaign materials in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“Win or lose, these candidates must consider the long-term consequences of their campaign materials in the environment. Therefore, they must encourage their supporters and volunteers to take down these materials, especially those made of plastic, and dispose these properly,” Sampulna said.

He added that the DENR, together with the local government units (LGUs), will be “at the beck and call” of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make sure that a resolution will be crafted requiring candidates to remove election materials after every campaign period.

“We will make sure that the existing environmental laws, such as RA 9003, will strengthen the resolution,” Sampulna said.

Moreover, the DENR chief asked the candidates to assemble their teams to “clean up voluntarily instead of being intimidated by possible violations after the election season.”

“Candidates could show how sincere they are in serving the country this way,” he added.

Sampulna recommended the recycling and upcycling campaign materials to lessen the by-products that will be disposed of in the dumpsites.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government, which is a member of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), has already disseminated an advisory to all LGUs to remind them to strictly enforce the pertinent provisions of RA 9003.

Under the advisory, which was disseminated to the regional offices of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), several initiatives have been recommended including strict enforcement of local ordinances and regulations against illegal dumping, open burning and littering, and utilization of materials recovery facilities of LGUs to collect and store reusable materials.

Coming up with innovative and safe strategies to recycle and upcycle reusable campaign waste materials; imposing the responsibility to the organizers of political activities to ensure that the waste generated will be properly disposed; and encouraging the citizenry to take part in initiatives of LGUs in ensuring a clean and litter-free environment, prior to, during and after elections were also included in the recommended initiatives for post-election activities of the candidates.

In April, the DENR took down over 114,000 campaign materials posted on trees nationwide pursuant to RA 3571.

RA 3571 provides that “cutting, destroying, or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises, or in any other public pleasure grounds are prohibited.” ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – through the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) – led the throwing of “bokashi balls” or mabuhay balls into the Balabag Wetland Park on April 29, as part of the rehabilitation and recovery of ecosystems on Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan.

Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) General Manager Martin Despi said the throwing of bokashi balls is a regular activity of the Environmental Management Bureau – National Capital Region (EMB-NCR) to improve water quality of the Manila Bay Watershed.

A bokashi ball, also known as “mabuhay ball,” is a Japanese rehabilitation technology made up of all-organic materials, such as garden soil, molasses, and rice hull.

It has an effective microorganism solution that breaks down toxins and consumes bad bacteria in the water.

“As long as we remain consistent with our rehabilitation efforts in all our wetlands, we are positive that throwing bokashi balls will reap positive results,” Despi said, noting that the 8,000 square meter-wetland’s water quality is currently at 7,900 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100mL).

The DENR aims to throw around 8,000 bokashi balls into the Balabag Wetland, with each bokashi ball able to clean about one-square-meter area.

“We will continue with what we’ve started, and who knows? Maybe our Balabag Wetland could also become swimmable in the near future,” Despi said.

Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Aboitiz Foundation Inc. adopted Balabag Wetland Park or Wetland No. 4 in 2018 to support the BIATF’s wetland recovery and rehabilitation program.

The throwing of bokashi balls into Boracay’s wetlands is one of DENR’s projects when the massive rehabilitation started in 2018.

At that time, resorts and houses have illegally reclaimed most of the wetlands in Boracay.

Despi cited that bokashi balls were also used to aid in the clean-up of creeks or “esteros” that are draining into Manila Bay.

He said that one of the esteros draining into Manila Bay registered the highest level of fecal coliform at 240 million MPN/100mL, but because of this intervention, it decreased to 19 million MPN/100mL. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which heads the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), has expressed hope that the municipal government of Malay will sustain the gains of the Boracay rehabilitation as the task force’s term ends next month.

“We are all excited to complete the rehabilitation of Boracay. But we cannot allow anyone to undo—immediately or otherwise—what we have accomplished, or to unlawfully stand in the way to the completion of our mission,” said DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna during the BIATF Principals’ Meeting in Boracay Island on April 29.

Sampulna said that the dissolution of the task force does not mean the end of the rehabilitation of the world-famous resort island.

He added that the various agencies and local government units, whether independent of each other or in partnership with one another, can continue the unfinished projects according to their respective priorities under the new administration.

The BIATF, which is chaired by the DENR with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as vice chair and the Department of Tourism (DOT) as co-vice chair was created by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Executive Order (EO) 53 on May 8, 2018.

On Sept. 14, 2021, the BIATF’s term was extended for the second time until June 30, 2022, through EO 147.

Sampulna pointed out that the general progress of the BIATF is “nothing short of remarkable, if not awesome, particularly in the reduction of fecal coliform counts and the rehabilitation of wetlands.”

“Our comfort, by then, is that we have done our part as members of this task force, and that, hopefully, we will be in a position to do more, or that our successors will be able to protect and build on our gains,” he said.

During the meeting on April 29, Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) General Manager Martin Jose V. Despi bared that Boracay’s beach is Class SB-compliant or safe for swimming, as it is within the standard fecal coliform level of 100 most probable number per 100 milliliters (100 MPN/100 mL).

In April 2022, the lowest fecal coliform level was at less than 1.8 MPN/100mL in three of the 21 sampling stations around the island.

Of the nine wetlands in Boracay, ongoing wetland rehabilitation efforts include improvement of water quality, construction of linear park and amphitheater in Wetland 4 (adopted by Aboitiz Property Ventures), establishment of an arboretum in Wetland 3 (adopted by San Miguel Corporation), construction of a boardwalk and perimeter fencing in Wetland 6 (adopted by Boracay Tubi Systems, Inc.), perimeter fencing of unoccupied portions of Wetland 8 (adopted by JG Summit, Inc.) and clearing of illegal settlers and construction of a 230-meter concrete fence in Wetland 9.

All these activities are expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2022.

Wetland 2 has been turned over by its adopter, Energy Development Corporation, to the DENR in February, while Wetland 1 in Bgy. Yapak, and Wetlands 5 and 9 in Bgy. Manoc-manoc, do not have their adopters.

Moreover, the Bokashi ball intervention initiated by the BIARMG is expected to improve water quality in all the wetlands.

With the influx of tourists on the island, DENR-Region 6 is updating its carrying capacity study and is expected to be finished by June 15, 2022.

As of April 2022, 155,885 foreign and local tourists arrived on the island, which is higher than the 116,645 tourists during the same period in 2018.

Sampulna said there is a need for an “honest-to-goodness” study on the carrying capacity and suggested to engage with a third party and the DENR-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.

On the enforcement of the 25+5-meter beach easement rule, 89 percent or 301 out of 339 establishments encroaching on the 25+5 meter beach easement have been demolished and are compliant as of April 15, 2022.

A hundred percent compliance is targeted by the end of June 2022.

On the enforcement of the 12-meter road right-of-way for widening and improvement of the Boracay Circumferential Road, 88 percent of establishments or 1,078 out of 1,230 total structures have been demolished and have complied with the 12-meter road easement.

The BIARMG targets a 94 percent total compliance rate or an additional 152 establishments to be demolished by the second quarter of 2022.

As to solid waste management, a memorandum of agreement between DENR-EMB and LGU Malay was signed for the release of P50 million to support the collection and transport of solid waste on the island.

Other accomplishments include the completion of 80 housing units for the relocation of Boracay residents in Barangay Dumlog in Malay, Aklan and the vaccination of 102 percent of tourism workers. ###

 

Acting Environment Secretary Jim O. Sampulna called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) personnel across the country to give proper attention and care to fellow employees who are persons with disabilities (PWDs) and include them in all the events and programs of the agency.

“Those who are strong must support those who are weak. God gave us a complete body to accomplish this mission—to assure that the PWDs are comfortable and happy in working in the DENR,” Sampulna said.

According to Sampulna, PWDs are included in President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s list of priorities.

“PWDs often encounter discrimination. That’s something that I don’t want to happen in DENR that our PWDs are being discriminated. Whatever we give to those who are not disabled, we should also give to the PWDs,” he said.

Sampulna’s message is also in line with President Duterte’s call of “leaving no one behind” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and typhoon devastations.

The DENR chief gave his message following a hybrid webinar, “Invest in Our Planet: Adopt PWD Environmental Best Practices, Strengthening PWDs’ and Senior Citizens’ Social Environmental Networks,” conducted on April 27.

Eighty workers, 18 of them from the Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAOs) in various local government units, and the DENR-PWD focal persons, took part in the activity where the effects of climate change and best practices on environment conservation and protection were discussed.

The webinar, which is a part of the Earth Day 2022 culminating activity, aimed to fulfill the DENR’s mission of “mobilizing the citizenry in protecting, conserving, and managing the environment and natural resources for the present and future generations.”

It is also in consonance with adopting a “whole-of-community approach” with PWDs in the spotlight and an integral part of activities in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Meanwhile, DENR Assistant Secretary for Human Resources, Strategic Communication and Sectoral Initiatives Hiro V. Masuda elaborated this year’s theme of Earth Day 2022, “Invest in our Planet.”

“Including all sectors of society, all people, wildlife, plants, will be a big part of sustaining the world we live in,” Masuda said.

“There will be more environmental learning activities and interventions for the PWDs to look out for, including a memorandum of agreement signing toSampulna bats for inclusion of PWD workers in all DENR activities

Acting Environment Secretary Jim O. Sampulna called on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) personnel across the country to give proper attention and care to fellow employees who are persons with disabilities (PWDs) and include them in all the events and programs of the agency.

“Those who are strong must support those who are weak. God gave us a complete body to accomplish this mission—to assure that the PWDs are comfortable and happy in working in the DENR,” Sampulna said.

According to Sampulna, PWDs are included in President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s list of priorities.

“PWDs often encounter discrimination. That’s something that I don’t want to happen in DENR that our PWDs are being discriminated. Whatever we give to those who are not disabled, we should also give to the PWDs,” he said.

Sampulna’s message is also in line with President Duterte’s call of “leaving no one behind” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and typhoon devastations.

The DENR chief gave his message following a hybrid webinar, “Invest in Our Planet: Adopt PWD Environmental Best Practices, Strengthening PWDs’ and Senior Citizens’ Social Environmental Networks,” conducted on April 27.

Eighty workers, 18 of them from the Persons with Disability Affairs Office (PDAOs) in various local government units, and the DENR-PWD focal persons, took part in the activity where the effects of climate change and best practices on environment conservation and protection were discussed.

The webinar, which is a part of the Earth Day 2022 culminating activity, aimed to fulfill the DENR’s mission of “mobilizing the citizenry in protecting, conserving, and managing the environment and natural resources for the present and future generations.”

It is also in consonance with adopting a “whole-of-community approach” with PWDs in the spotlight and an integral part of activities in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Meanwhile, DENR Assistant Secretary for Human Resources, Strategic Communication and Sectoral Initiatives Hiro V. Masuda elaborated this year’s theme of Earth Day 2022, “Invest in our Planet.”

“Including all sectors of society, all people, wildlife, plants, will be a big part of sustaining the world we live in,” Masuda said.

“There will be more environmental learning activities and interventions for the PWDs to look out for, including a memorandum of agreement signing to create counterparts of information, education, and communication materials in Braille,” he added. #

 

 

Four workers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were inducted into the prestigious Hall of Environmental Heroes by the Environmental Heroes Foundation, Inc. (EHFI) during the 2022 Earth Day celebration on April 22.

Those given recognition were Real, Quezon Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) Miliarete Panaligan; El Nido-Taytay, Palawan forest ranger Bienvenido Veguilla Jr., and forest ranger Ronaldo Corpuz and forest protection officer Gaudencio Arana, both from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

“We have lost good men and women in defense of our planet’s health, but the losses will not deter us from holding the line. Rather, they will inspire us to do better, together,” DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said in a message read by DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs, Atty. Jonas Leones.

The families of the honorees were given posthumous awards through recognition plaques, and will receive a P1.2-million livelihood assistance with each family to receive P300,000 to be given in three tranches at P100,00 per year from 2022 to 2024.

DENR Assistant Secretary and EHFI executive director Daniel Darius Nicer said the amount came from the P4-million prize money donated by the DENR Warriors after bagging the championship at the 2019-2020 UNTV annual charity basketball league.

The event marked the third awarding of the prestigious recognition of EHFI—a non-profit and donor-sponsored organization.

Fifteen workers have been honored by the foundation since 2016, which includes Bukidnon-based Catholic priest Nerlito Dazo Satur, who was deputized by the DENR as a forest protection officer in Bukidnon.

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno, chair of the EHFI board of trustees, was the event’s keynote speaker.

Puno called for stricter enforcement of the country’s environmental laws by emulating the environmental heroes who have “given the best slice of their lives, including their own lives to implement our laws, protecting especially our forests from degradation brought by illegal loggers and other criminal syndicates.”

“Rest assured however, that the EHFI will tell and retell your heroic efforts, for these are the narratives that will provide the enduring values for a foundation of a future that will last,” Puno said.

The former top magistrate also pointed out the principle of “interbeing” that will govern people’s relationship with the environment to fight “ecocide,” referring to the deliberate wanton destruction of the environment, which he said is “worse than genocide happening in various parts of the world, including the country of Ukraine.”

On the principle of “interbeing,” Puno read a passage from the “Climate: A New Story,” written by Charles Eisenstein, saying: “Who I am depends on who you are. The world is part of me, just as I am part of it. What happens to the world is in some way happening to me.”

Like the other awardees recognized earlier, this year’s EHFI awardees were slain except for Panaligan, who died in 2018 after battling a lingering illness, met EHFI’s criteria particularly for her ”consistency of track record in protecting the environment and faithfully serving the government.”

Nicer cited Panaligan’s track record as DENR’s top CENRO in Luzon and the Visayas for earning the highest number of apprehension cases numbering 277 from 2010 to 2016, and even averaged 7 to 8 apprehensions per month in 2017 despite repeated death threats.

The EHFI recognition is likewise conferred for “exemplary bravery and commitment to the protection of the environment and natural resources” aside from loss of one’s life or permanent disability as a result of enforcing environment and natural resources laws, Nicer explained.

Meanwhile, Earth Day Network Philippines president and country coordinator Wigberto Tañada Jr. lamented the failure of the 18th Congress to pass the bill that would create the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau or EPEB.

“We hope it will be filed in the next Congress and our next leaders will see the urgency in strengthening the DENR to capacitate environmental defenders and law enforcers—too many of them have fallen,” Tañada said. ###