DENR turns over 250,000 ‘Ecosavers passbooks’ to DepEd

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has turned over to the Department of Education (DepEd) an initial 250,000 units of “Ecosavers Club Passbook” to be distributed to public elementary and high school students in Metro Manila who are taking part in the highly praised National Ecosavers Program (NEP).

NEP is a recycling campaign launched by the government in 2012 in a bid to reduce garbage being collected from schools and households through the establishment of an ecological solid waste recovery system in every school, which would allow students to exchange their recyclables and biodegradable waste for school supplies or even cash.

An incentive mechanism was created under the program where students are issued passbooks to record the credit points they earn from their recyclable and biodegradable materials. The recyclables are then pooled for final collection by accredited junk shops and recyclers.

The NEP’s initial phase is being implemented in 783 government primary and secondary schools in the National Capital Region involving some 1.9 million students. The program’s national expansion is underway.

Aside from the DENR and DepEd, the NEP is also being implemented by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), in partnership with the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), Galing Pook Foundation, and major players in the plastics industry.

Prior to the distribution of official Ecosavers passbooks, the DepEd reported that schools implementing the NEP used improvised passbooks for their students. The improvised passbooks indicate the weight of each type of waste brought by the student and the corresponding points.

The DENR, which had allotted P50 million for the initial implementation of the NEP, is targeting the distribution of one million passbooks within the year, and the remaining 900,000 by 2015.

DENR records would show that around 30 percent of the solid waste that remain uncollected come from informal communities where most public students reside.

“The NEP is a way to ensure that solid waste in areas that the MMDA is unable to collect from is reduced, and we thank public schools for their initiative and participation in the program,” said DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.

The environment chief added: “We recognize that the solution to most of our problems comes from the stakeholders themselves. This is a unique, participatory program that involves everyone and benefits everyone.”

During the first meeting of the NEP’s steering committee held at the DENR main office in Quezon City last Tuesday, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro said that schools could also benefit from the compost that can be generated from biodegradable wastes brought by students.

The compost can be used for seedlings under the DepEd’s project to grow at least five native tree species on school campuses.

Luistro said the NEP also encourages students to learn financial management at an early age because aside from recording the waste and number of points they have earned, they can also use the passbook in setting up deposit account with partner banks.

Meanwhile, Paje noted that one of the challenges faced by the national government in implementing the NEP is the support from local government units (LGUs).

He thus directed NSWMC Executive Director Ely Ildefonso to develop guidelines to assist in program implementation, including the possibility of requiring LGUs to support the program.

MMDA General Manager Corazon Jimenez, for her part, said the agency would help in encouraging all barangays in Metro Manila to become active NEP partners of schools within their areas of jurisdiction. ###




Gov’t intensifies information campaign on climate change, Manila Bay rehab

The government on Friday launched a massive advocacy campaign aimed at raising public awareness about two of the most pressing environmental challenges facing the country today: climate change and Manila Bay rehabilitation.

Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), along with Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), led the launching of the twin campaign at the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) office in Quezon City.

The Climate Change Advocacy Campaign aims to soften public apathy toward climate change through strategic communication and social mobilization, while the Manila BAYanihan Para sa Kalinisan Campaign seeks to harmonize all existing causes for the rehabilitation of one of the country’s most important water bodies.

Paje expressed hope that with the renewed and intensified campaign of the government, people would come to realize that “everyone is accountable” for the impacts of climate change and the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“Everyone is accountable for the phenomenon of climate change. All of us will be accountable and each of us can do something to help. The same goes for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay,” Paje said.

He said the twin campaign was aimed at “breaking through public apathy on the two issues and make people do something for the environment.”

“The antidote to our environmental problems is a change in attitude. Nagbabago na ang panahon. Panahon na para magbago,” Paje said, quoting the overall theme of the awareness campaign.

To make the campaign more popular and recognizable to the public, the organizers have created some branding like KALIgKASAN, a play on the words kaligtasan (safety) and kalikasan (environment), and Punoan.

KALIgKASAN focuses on strategies to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and reduce disaster risk on both humans and the environment. It uses social media to disseminate information to the public.

Punoan, on the other hand, supports the implementation of the National Greening Program, the flagship reforestation program of the Aquino administration that seeks to cover 1.5 million hectares of land with trees by 2016.

The DENR also announced that a mobile application named “Alerto Pinoy” will soon be made available to the public. The application will provide relevant information and data that are particularly useful during calamities and disasters like geohazard maps, alert warnings and advisories.

The DENR and PIA also formalized their partnership with media network GMA 7, which agreed to air the infomercials for the campaign.

Also during the event, the DENR’s Manila Bay Coordinating Office presented a 30-seconder infomercial on the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr. is the chairman of the Advisory Committee that verifies compliance reports of government agencies mentioned in the high court’s landmark decision on the Manila Bay clean up.

In 2008, the high tribunal issued a mandamus directing some 11 government agencies, led by the DENR, to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay and restore its waters to a condition that is safe for recreational activities.

Paje said that although a lot of people are already aware of climate change and Manila Bay issues, the main objective of the campaign was to translate such awareness into action by “improving people’s perception of their role in environmental protection.”

“The environment is not the government’s monopoly. Every citizen should see himself as part of a solution to environmental problems,” he reiterated. #



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