DENR, MOEJ pledge stronger PH-Japan cooperation on climate change
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) are exploring ways to further enhance the partnership of the Philippines and the United States in environmental protection and climate change mitigation.
US Charge d’Affaires Heather Variava, USAID Mission Director to the Philippines Ryan Washburn, and USAID Philippines Environment Office Chief John Edgar on March 3, paid a courtesy visit on DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna in acknowledgement of the longtime partnership between USAID and DENR.
“It is our great pleasure to meet you today and have the opportunity to personally thank the US government for always being supporting in our efforts of meeting our agenda in the environment and natural resources,” Sampulna told the US officials.
The new DENR chief, who had been a regional director from 2009 to 2018, cited that several USAID projects were implemented during his time on the field and hoped to continue doing so under his leadership.
“I came from the field, from the region, and I have implemented many USAID projects. We have the Safe Water project and SIBOL (Sustainable Interventions for Biodiversity, Oceans and Landscapes), which we are implementing right now,” Sampulna said.
National Water Resources Board (NWRB) Executive Director Sevillo D. David Jr. said the Safe Water project is currently being implemented by NWRB as DENR’s focal agency, among three regional offices in Palawan, Negros Occidental, and Mindanao.
Meanwhile, DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) OIC Director Natividad Y. Bernardino shared that the SIBOL project team has recently worked on the Siargao seascape, which was badly hit by Typhoon Odette in December 2021.
“The work that USAID does to the country’s resources is so important to the whole world, and the Philippines is one of our priorities for safe and resilient water,” Variava said.
USAID provides technical assistance to the projects, with the Safe Water initiative aiming to improve the sustainable management of the country’s water resources, and SIBOL on reducing environmental crimes, and improving water security.
It was former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu who signed the five-year partnership with USAID for SIBOL and Safe Water programs on May 27, 2021.
These projects are under the P7.25 billion USAID-Philippines agreement on enhanced and community resilience signed by the National Economic and Development Authority and USAID in February 2021.
Aside from these projects, DENR and USAID discussed looking into coming up with more activities for the other priority programs of the DENR, including the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, illegal wildlife trade, marine litter, and climate change.
“We want to make sure that we are aligned with your priorities so that we could support and know we’re going in the right direction,” Washburn said.
He also mentioned the Climate Resilient Cities project, which is the latest USAID project that aims to help the Philippines adapt to, mitigate, and endure the impacts of climate change.
Washburn expressed hope that the DENR will continue to support the dissemination of climate information to local communities to increase the resilience of communities to the impact of climate change. ###
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is closely scrutinizing the details of a 2017 memorandum of agreement (MOA) it signed with the Masungi Georeserve Foundation Inc. (MGFI) to ensure its consistency with the country’s laws on protected areas.
DENR-Region 4A Executive Director Nilo Tamoria said the move was in line with the order of former Secretary Roy A. Cimatu to re-evaluate the MOA and ascertain its consistency with the provisions of Republic Act 11038, or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area Systems (E-NIPAS), which adopts strong amendatory measures to the 24-year old NIPAS law.
"We are now evaluating the consistency of the provisions in the MOA with the E-NIPAS law," Tamoria said in a press conference with DENR OIC Secretary Jim O. Sampulna on February 28.
The MOA covers the operation of an ecotourism park in Baras, Rizal, popularly known as "Masungi Georeserve," which sits inside the 26,124-hectare Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL)—one of the 94 protected areas declared under the E-NIPAS law.
Tamoria said that the UPMRBPL Protected Area Management Board (PAMB), which he chairs, is holding special meetings to make a review of the MOA and "make recommendations on the way forward."
The MOA covers an area of 300 hectares which MGFI started operating in 2015 as an ecotourism park for public use.
In 2017, MGFI signed the MOA with former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez for conservation efforts within the UPMRBPL covering 2,700 hectares.
The area covered under the 2017 MOA includes a portion of land which is subject of an ancestral domain claim.
The Dumagat-Remontados of Antipolo have a pending application for Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title or CADT covering some 13,000 hectares, or half of the 26,126-hectare total land area of the UMRBPL.
The area covered under the MOA is an offshoot of an earlier joint venture agreement entered into by former DENR Secretary Victor Ramos and Blue Star Development Corporation (BSDC) in 1997 for a housing project for government workers.
This was followed by a supplemental MOA in 2001 between BSDC and then DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna vowed that solid waste management will remain a top priority of the agency to reach its goal of approving the 10-year solid waste management plans (SWMPs) of more local government units (LGUs) nationwide.
"Our battle against solid waste continues and we will not stop until all our LGUs have their approved [SWMPs] and have implemented these. We will continue to act fast on the problems of unsegregated wastes ending up in sanitary landfills, COVID-19 healthcare wastes and the unchanged behavior of the majority of the Filipinos towards solid waste disposal,” Sampulna said.
The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), chaired by the DENR, will focus on having 185 LGUs with approved 10-year SWMPs by the end of 2022 as the commission continues to enforce Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
As of February 22, a total of 1,175 SWMPs out of the target 1,716 plans have been approved.
The NSWMC recently approved the SWMPs of Magallanes, Sorsogon; Balbalan, Kalinga; Pontevedra, Negros Occidental; and Abra in an en banc meeting on February 22.
The 10-year SWMP is a requirement under RA 9003 for the effective management of solid waste among cities and municipalities.
It contains strategies on proper waste collection, diversion, and disposal, as well as proper operation and maintenance of solid waste equipment and facility.
It also specifies actions such as information dissemination strategies to residents, the presence of materials recovery facility and sanitary landfill, biodegradable waste process, and partnership with organizations for their recycling.
An LGU with a drafted 10-year SWMP will undergo screening by the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) regional offices, while further validations will be conducted by the DENR-EMB central office.
Lastly, it will go through deliberations and approval from the NSWMC members.
NSWMC Vice-Chair Crispian Lao also emphasized that the COVID-19 waste management plan will be included this year as one of the strategies in the 10-year plan under the guidelines in the NSWMC Resolution No. 1364, Series of 2020.
"The Commission chaired by the DENR commits to assist LGUs towards the approval of their solid waste management plans. We will not stop until we reach 100 percent approved [SWMPs] to have an environmentally-sound management of solid waste," Sampulna said.###