Regional Releases

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

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has decided to cancel all of its environmental events for March 2020 in the light of the proactive move by city and provincial governments of Iloilo to protect its people from the local transmission of COVID 19.

“We have to obey the rules and protect ourselves from this dreaded virus that is now gripping the world with fear. It is necessary for us to cancel our scheduled events for the month as protecting life is more important right now,” said Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr. of DENR Region 6.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas has issued Executive Order (EO) No. 50-A series of 2020, an amendment to EO Nos. 042-A and 050. On the other hand, Iloilo Governor Arthur R. Defensor, Jr. signed EO No. 028-C, series of 2020 to protect the residents in the city and province of Iloilo, and to prevent the spread and/or local transmission of COVID. The two EOs also restricted travel, discouraged mass gatherings, suspended classes, and imposed social distancing and community quarantine procedures.

In support to these initiatives, the DENR Region 6 cancelled its scheduled activities for the month of March, namely: International Day of Forests on March 21, World Water Day on March 22, Earth Hour on March 28, and all Women’s Month activities from March 1-31.

As a preventive measure, the DENR 6 management also provided alcohol and sanitizer for use of all its employees, suspended the holding of flag raising and lowering ceremonies and the use of biometrics, and closed the canteen until April 14.

Three Designated Receiving Areas (DRAs) were also set up - Courtyard for the regional office, the Surveys and Mapping Division, and the Manuel L. Lagunilla Compound Ground Floor Lobby for clients who bring documents to the office. All personnel are also discouraged to receive personal visitors or bring family members in the office.

DENR 6 has also adopted the four-day work week scheme in compliance to Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-02 signed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. The Memo Circular provides for the alternate working arrangements to ensure safety of the personnel while continuing to deliver essential services of the Department despite the COVID 19 threat.

On the other hand, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Regional Director Atty. Ramar Niel V. Pascua issued an advisory encouraging everyone to take part in the observance of Earth Hour, a global lights-off event, by turning off all non-essential lights in their homes, establishments and offices on March 28 from 8:30 PM until 9:30 PM.

The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has also cancelled the LoveBoracay 2020 events due to the threat of COVID 19. The decision was reached after the task force meeting on March 12 with Malay Mayor Frolebar Bautista and BIATF alternates. The meeting was presided by DENR USec Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr. who represented Secretary Roy A. Cimatu as task force chair.

LoveBoracay is a weeklong series of events celebrating the rehabilitation of the world famous island. It was originally slated for April 26 to May 2.

DENR USec Benny Antiporda, when interviewed by the local media after the meeting, disclosed that “since the COVID 19 situation has not improved, and with the health of the attendees, organizers and stakeholders, a primary consideration, the BIATF has decided to cancel this event.”/DENR 6

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 1, in its bid to improve the lives of Filipinos by way of giving them security in land ownership, conducted the region-wide orientation of all land management officers on Rapid Land Tenure Appraisal (RLTA) and Land Titling.

RLTA is a barangay profiling activity designed primarily in cities and municipalities covered by Cadastral Surveys done more than 20 years ago. The activity will reveal how much of the remaining untitled lots are readily available and workable for titling.

Regional Executive Director (RED) Atty. Crizaldy M. Barcelo urged the participants to become advocates to ensure the attainment of the Philippine Development Plan 2020 commitment which is to issue a total of 360,000 agricultural and residential patents by the end of 2022.

According to RED Barcelo, to be able to contribute in the PDP commitment, “leverage on where you can shine and bring out our potential.” He also encouraged the participants to be honest in presenting their accomplishments as he despised misrepresentation and fabricated reports as these will be validated in the future.
RED Barcelo is optimistic that with this orientation, DENR Region 1 will equip all those involved in lands management and administration in attaining the region’s targets including the other major programs and projects of the DENR.

The acceleration of land titling is a priority of the current administration. However, there is difficulty in accurately identifying the actual number of the remaining untitled A and D lands from the cadastral records of DENR alone.

This is especially true for areas surveyed 20 years ago or earlier since many lands were informally transferred and subdivided by the heirs of the owners. The situation is further aggravated by the fragmented records from other agencies that have their own land titling activities. With the Rapid Land Tenure Appraisal, titling can be done more accurately and faster. RAS/RPAO

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 recently hosted the arrival of the Central Office PBB Assessment (PAst) Team and Performance Management Team (PMT) to conduct the assessment of the accomplishments of Region 6 for CY 2019. The two teams validated the documents or Means of Verification (MOV) as a prelude to the Environmental Award for Governance and Leadership Excellence (EAGLE) for CY 2019.

The PAsT Team members conducted a one-week validation, from March 8 to 14, 2020, to assess all CY 2019 MOVS and documents of DENR Region 6.

The annual assessment is anchored on the Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2019-04 or the Guidelines on the Implementation of EAGLE and is aimed to promote a culture of organizational and leadership excellence in the Department.

Excellence in governance and leadership in the DENR is stated in Executive Order 192, series of 1987 which mandates the DENR as the primary government agency responsible for the conservation, management, development and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources. As such, it has to ensure good governance and leadership excellence in all facets in the delivery of public service.

Other policies which support the same are: Section 26 of E.O. 192 which mandates the DENR to formulate and enforce a system of measuring and evaluating periodically and objectively its performance; and DAO 1992-33, “Performance Monitoring Operations Manual” which provides the systems and procedures in the conduct of performance monitoring for the DENR.

“The regional office of DENR here is more than happy to support you with what you may need and require during your one-week assessment here,” DENR 6 ARD for Technical Services Livino B. Duran told the team.

This Phase 1 EAGLE Assessment for CY 2019 has three-pronged objectives: 1. To strengthen the culture of organizational and leadership excellence in the DENR as it carries out its important role in ensuring the conservation, management and development and proper use of the country’s environment and natural resources; 2. To assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the field officials in delivering their office functions; and 3. To recognize and commend performance of field officials for their exemplary leadership and major accomplishments and contributions in pursuing the Department’s goals and objectives.

The EAGLE assessment covers the performance of 16 Regional Executive Directors (REDs), 16 Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Regional Directors, 15 Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Regional Directors, 18 Implementing Provincial ENR Offices (PENROs), 60 PENROs, and 140 Community ENROs, who had occupied their positions for the last nine months of 2019.

“We welcome this yearly assessment to gauge the strength of our efficient and effective public service. We are here to serve the people, and we must do it the best way we can,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

“Through the EAGLE, we wish to honor our field officers, whom we consider our frontliners in delivering our services to the public and implementing our mandate, as well as to promote a culture of excellence in the organization and its leadership,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. /DENR 6

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) - MIMAROPA Region and the Provincial Government of Palawan once again joined forces to continuously protect the country’s last ecological frontier amid serious threats being faced not only by its rich biodiversity, but also by the people defending it.
In a management conference attended by the key officials of DENR, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), and Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) -MIMAROPA on March 3, Palawan Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez turned over 20 units of firearms to DENR MIMAROPA to arm forest protection officers during their regular forest patrol and monitoring activities.
In September 2019, DENR MIMAROPA’s Forest Ranger Bienvenido Veguilla was hacked to death by illegal loggers while he and his team were visiting a National Greening Program (NGP) site, and found environmental violators on their way back to Brgy. Pasadena in El Nido.
In August 2017, a forester was wounded when he and his team were ambushed after they apprehended suspected illegal loggers and confiscated an unlicensed chainsaw in the mountains of Puerto Princesa.
A month later, a village captain, who was also a member of the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area Management Board (ENTMRPAMB), was killed by assailants who reportedly had a grudge with him for confiscating their illegally-cut lumber.
The 20 units of guns, which were the first batch of 150 firearms to be donated by the provincial government, were received by DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado, together with the officials from the DENR Central Office namely Undersecretary Jim Sampulna, Assistant Secretary Gilbert Gonzales, Assistant Secretary Marcial Amaro and Director Nilo Tamoria.
PENRO Eriberto Sanos of Palawan explained that the forest protection officers who will be issued firearms already underwent a basic course in firearms. However, they will be provided with more intensive training to ensure responsible and safe gun handling.
After the turnover of firearms, RED Adornado and Governor Alvarez facilitated the documentation for the donation of 75,000 board feet (bdft) of lumber to the provincial government and the local office of the Department of Education. This is in relation to the previous agreement between DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu and Governor Alvarez for the provincial government to use the confiscated lumber to make tables, chairs and other school fixtures for distribution by the Department of Education.
“This only proves that the shared efforts of DENR and the LGU are crucial in saving Palawan’s natural resources and in helping our people, particularly the youth, in securing a brighter and greener future,” Director Adornado remarked.
Later that day, Undersecretary Sampulna led an awarding ceremony that recognized the valiant efforts of Veguilla and his team on that fateful day of September 4, 2019. The undersecretary handed over to Veguilla’s sons, John Patrick and John Carl Matthew, the Medalya ng Bayaning Kalikasan Award in honor of their father’s relentless dedication to defend the forests against all odds. A Php 30,000 financial support was also given to the forest ranger’s family.
Meantime, Veguilla’s team members, Jenuel Casel, Herson Caliao, Norlito Jongay, Godensio Caber and Marvin Flamiano, were awarded a Plaque of Recognition for going beyond the call of duty, and demonstrating strong commitment to protect the environment. ###