Regional Releases

Prior to the outbreak of the corona virus disease or CoViD 19, field offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas conducted activities in observance of the International Day of Forests 2020.

The International Day of Forests (IDF) is an annual celebration held on March 21 to raise awareness on the importance of forests to people and their vital role in poverty eradication, environmental sustainability and food security. This year’s theme: “Forest and Biodiversity” emphasized the importance of the forests and the biodiversity found within them.

The DENR Region 6 field offices celebrated IDF just before mass gatherings were postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis.

In Aklan, the Provincial ENR Office (PENRO) conducted a small group discussion (SGD) with the youth who are the future eco-warriors. The SGD informed and educated the eco-warriors on the importance and benefits of our forests, especially the Aklan River Watershed Forest Reserve (ARWFR). It was held in Brgy. Ma. Cristina, Madalag, which is part of the ARWFR.

In the province of Antique, the PENRO team discussed the importance of forests and the IDF in their radio program aired over DYKA 801 AM. Other activities of the PENROs were postponed to prevent the possible spread of the virus.

“This global pandemic is rooted on the fact that we have changed the land uses of many forestlands, of humans either invading territories that belong to the wildlife or engaging in illegal wildlife trade, thereby putting a heavy toll on biodiversity and our lives in general,” noted DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

“Forests and biodiversity go hand in hand. You cannot destroy one and expect the other to thrive. When we destroy our forests, we destroy its biodiversity – the very resources that sustain our existence such as food, clean water, clean air and even our medicines. They are too precious to lose,” he emphasized.

In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed March 21 as the International Day of Forests. The day celebrates and raises awareness of the importance of all types of forests. Countries are encouraged to undertake local, national and international efforts to organize activities involving forests and trees, such as tree planting campaigns.

“While staying at home amidst this crisis I encourage each and everyone to start their own garden or plant-on-pot and decorate it in the 4-corners of your home. This is a good stress reliever and a good oxygen-giver too. DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu had emphasized the importance of the Enhanced National Greening Program (ENGP) and while people are advised to stay at home, let us make use of the “enhanced” greening program in our home,” RED Milla said./DENR 6

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 joins in the celebration of the 2020 National Women’s Month with the theme: “We Make Change Work for Women.” The event recognizes the importance of women empowerment to attain their full potentials in becoming effective contributors for the country’s development.
DENR 6 recognizes women as leaders, caretakers and educators in protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources. It also considers women as catalysts in the mitigation of climate change and in disaster risk reduction which is apt to the theme: “Women Can Make Change in Climate and Disaster Resiliency.”
In line with the month-long celebration, DENR Region 6 recently conducted the Gender and Development (GAD) Forum. Invited speakers were Director in the Office of the Ombudsman in Region 6 Atty. Pio R. Dargantes and Expertpanel Consultancy, Inc. President and Executive Director of, Estela F. Paredes and Paredes discussed the basic gender concepts and salient features of Republic Act No. 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women.
Dargantes discussed gender sensitivity in recognizing women and their roles in nation building, and equality of women and men.
Paredes, on the other hand, differentiated sex and gender, terms that are often used interchangeably. Sex is an identification of the biological differences in a human body based on their reproductive function. Gender is psychological and sociocultural characteristics whether feminine or masculine.
The lecture discussed gender biases, which like inequality, affects men and women but affects mostly women. It also tackled the Magna Carta of Women, a comprehensive law on the human rights of women that seeks to eliminate discrimination against women by recognizing, protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of Filipino women, especially those in the marginalized sectors.

Women who made valuable contributions to the DENR in mitigating the effects of climate change and in protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources are Loren Legarda and Josephine Ramirez-Sato.
Legarda worked for the enactment of environmental laws including the Clean Air Act, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and the Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act. She was the founder of Luntiang Pilipinas (Green Philippines), an environmental foundation that aimed to plant two million trees across the country.
Ramirez-Sato, during her term as Governor of Occidental Mindoro, banned all mining activities in the province for 25 years. She co-authored the 2018 Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Law to ensure livelihood for the locals while they protect wildlife habitats.
“Women are also the strong advocates and contributors to climate action and sustainability. The Philippines is one of the best countries where women enjoy equal rights with men,” said Francisco E. Milla, Jr., Regional Executive Director of DENR Region 6.# DENR6

The digital world plays a pivotal role amid restrictions on mass movement of people as part of the nationwide effort to flatten the curve on the rising statistics of local transmission of the 2019 coronavirus disease or COVID-19.
In one ingenious way, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in Region 6 uses one social media platform to celebrate World Water Day (WWD) 2020 in a fun, educational way. In this digital era, information can be attained through the tip of our fingers by scrolling our phone devices to get updates and be cognizant with the happenings around the globe.
Thus, the EMB in Region 6 created a World Water Day 2020 Tiktok Challenge and is inviting residents of Western Visayas to shoot a 30-60 second video in line with the theme, “Water and Climate Change.” The activity is a creative approach to encourage people to engage in environmental gravity. Submission of entries is extended to March 30, 2020.
DENR–EMB’s World Water Day 2020 Tiktok Challenge may be done solo, duo or in group, provided social distancing is observed. It aims to put across the message of water conservation in all age groups in a way that is popular among many people.
“I call on every individual to take action. We all need clean and safe water. As we celebrate the World Water Day 2020, let us start change within ourselves. Be an advocate of the movement to preserve our water resources and avoid human activities that pollute them,” said Atty. Ramar Niel V. Pascua, Regional Director of EMB-6.
In connection to this year’s theme, “Water and Climate Change”, the scheduled lecture and clean-up activities of DENR 6 in rivers, creeks of Alibunan and upland areas of Sitio Paradahan in Calinog, Iloilo on the 20th of March was cancelled due to the pandemic.
On the other hand, the growth of global population demands greater use of water which depletes the natural resources and damages the environment. The extreme weather conditions also lead to water scarcity.
Social media platforms became the medium that collects and disseminates information, ideas and interests simultaneously, and which connects people through virtual networks.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected hundreds of thousands of people globally and put many countries on lockdown, including the Philippines. The lockdown ordered people to stay home to avoid and break the chain of local transmission of the virus. Thus, more people are now glued to their phones, and social media platforms became the source of information and entertainment for many.
The DENR has cancelled scheduled environmental activities amidst the COVID-19 crisis. To be proactive, it uses social media platform such as Facebook to relay information to the virtual community through infographics in its official Facebook account.
This way, it is still able to raise public awareness on the importance of clean water for human consumption and a healthy ecosystem.
The World Water Day is celebrated every 22nd day of March in coordination with United Nations (UN) – Water, an inter-agency collaboration mechanism for freshwater related issues with the help of the government and private partners.
“The effects of climate change in the country gradually destroy the environment and vital functions of biodiversity are at stake. It is important to protect our forests and watersheds for sustainable water management. We must further the campaign on ecological solid waste management to halt garbage from polluting the water,” said by Forester Danilo L. Lorilla, Chief of Conservation and Development Division (CDD).
Recently, a clean-up drive in Jar-ao River was conducted with participants from DENR 6, Multi-Sectoral Forest Protection Committee (MFPC), LGUs, Forest Protection Officers, residents and students of Tubungan, Iloilo.
The MFPC ensures its contribution to conserving and protecting the river with the clean-up operation that successfully collected 989 kilograms of garbage, most of which were plastic.
“Clean water is crucial for people, animals and wildlife species especially in this period amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Let us drink a lot of water to stay hydrated, be hygienic by frequent hand washing and sanitation, and practice social distancing and quarantine to help combat the disease,” said DENR 6 regional executive director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.
Efforts to strengthen the Philippine Clean Water Act or the R.A. 9275 is one among the ten priority programs of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu./DENR 6

Personnel from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) immediately responded to the situation after they received the report from a concerned citizen who incidentally was a staff of Sitio Barimbing in Brgy. San Manuel. 

“In observance of preventive health measures on COVID-19, we made sure that our team headed to the area wearing personal protective equipment, and they strictly observed the social distancing policy,” said CENR Officer of Puerto Princesa, Felizardo Cayatoc.
The stranded turtle measured 47 cm in curved carapace width (CCW) and 53 cm in curved carapace length (CCL) and weighed approximately seven kilos. The turtle did not have a marine turtle tag attached to it.
The response team said the turtle may have been hit by a boat propeller, as shown by the cuts on its head. Initially, the turtle was able to lift its head to breathe but cannot swim back to the sea.
“It might be disoriented due to the impact caused by the propeller,” Ma. Vivian Soriano, Chief of the Conservation and Development Section of CENRO reported.
As advised by the Biodiversity Management Bureau, the CENRO took into custody the injured turtle for further observation.
The turtle recovered the next day and was able to crawl on the sand and make swimming movements when lifted. Its flippers moved in coordination and it could fully submerge itself and swim normally.
The team then attached a marine turtle tag with serial number PH0704E to its right flipper, to track its movements and collect valuable information that is necessary for its protection. It was then released to the sea.
“We know it would be fine, so it was time to release the turtle back into the sea,” said Soriano who led the CENRO staff and officials of Brgy. San Manuel in sending back the turtle into its natural habitat.
The Green Turtle is in the red list of threatened species of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Strong, concerted actions are called to protect and save its population.
“We are thankful that the community and the local government remain vigilant in protecting our valued species, even amid the threat brought by COVID-19,” DENR Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado said.
“It is also at this time that we recognize our frontline and skeletal staff who continue to render public service despite the risks,” he added.
In line with the observance of Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon, and pursuant to the directive of Secretary Roy Cimatu, the regional and field offices of DENR MIMAROPA currently implement alternative working arrangements, with majority of the personnel working from home. A skeletal workforce was created to render vital, urgent and time-bound services.
“We assure the public that for as long as we do not compromise the health of our personnel and the community, we will respond and continue our work in protecting the environment even during these times,” the Adornado concluded. (With report and photos from CENRO Puerto Princesa) ###

As Filipinos try to come to terms with the new norm that is the community quarantine or lockdown brought about by the 2019 coronavirus disease or COVID-19, there are a number of reasons why this move is seen as beneficial to planet Earth.

In Luzon, the once smog-filled air is clear and streets are visibly clean. “Thanks to the lockdown, the air quality in Metro Manila has improved by more than 50 percent,” said DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

“From the formerly fair to unhealthy air quality, it has become fair to good,” said Antiporda.

In Iloilo City, the almost deserted streets, closed shops and malls have also resulted to clean air. Without the usual rush of vehicles, streets have lesser smoke emissions, and fewer people in the city has resulted to less garbage, too.

“This CoViD 19 has positive effects on our planet. Air quality has improved due to less vehicles plying the streets. We anticipate improved water quality, as well. Since the lockdown was implemented, hotels have fewer clients and restaurants and malls are closed resulting to a reduction in the discharge of wastewater,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

“We also learn one very valuable lesson because of this CoViD: good sanitation. Now we are all conscious about our hygiene – frequent hand washing and the use of alcohol. Aside from these practices, I also appeal to one and all to learn how to manage their wastes. For those who are already practicing waste segregation, composting and recycling, please continue your efforts. Nothing beats a clean environment for our own sake,” Milla added.

The whole planet has literally paused from all the pollution brought by anthropogenic or human activities. A drastic decrease in air pollution over China during the two weeks in February when the lockdown was implemented, was observed by National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Space Agency. The satellite measured fewer concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, a gaseous air pollutant released by cars, power plants and industrial facilities.

This pandemic has surprisingly brought about the thrust of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s on clean air and clean water, with people becoming more aware of the importance of a clean environment. /DENR 6