Press Releases

Southeast Asia’s environment, health and climate ministers will gather in the Philippines next week for a high-level roundtable discussion on clean air, health and climate change.

Happening on July 24-25 at The Peninsula Manila, the ASEAN Ministerial Roundtable Discussion on Clean Air, Health and Climate is co-hosted by the Philippine government—through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—together with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition of the United Nations.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the roundtable meeting will provide “a platform for an interactive discussion, in a high-level setup, on the opportunities and challenges of coming up with a regional approach to air pollution and climate change.”

The two-day event, he said, will also bring together experts and scientists in the ASEAN region and beyond to share local initiatives and insights toward global climate action, clean air and health that can simultaneously meet the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) of each country.

During the event, ASEAN member-countries will be called upon to respond collectively to the Special Report on Global Warming 1.5°C published by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in October 2018.

The report emphasized the need for early action on all climate forcing emissions, including short-lived climate pollutants (SLCP) as part of the pathway to stay well below 2°C as agreed by the parties to the Paris accord.

In terms of air pollution and its effect on public health and development which many of the ASEAN countries still experience as a challenge, the “Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-Based Solutions” report identified 25 clean air measures which if implemented across the region would result in 1 billion people enjoying clean air at the strictest ambient standards of the World Health Organization by 2030.

Further, this would also deliver 0.3°C reduced global warming relative to 2015 – reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 19 percent, methane by 44 percent, and black carbon by 77 percent by 2040-2050.

The event will commence in the morning of July 24 with the ASEAN Ministers Roundtable Discussion to be led by Secretary Cimatu, Health Secretary Francisco Duque and Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman of the Climate Change Commission.

A Senior Officials Workshop will proceed in the afternoon until the following day. It is comprised of four sessions marked with several presentations dealing with scientific studies and findings on the link between air pollution and climate change, clean air measures for Asia and the Pacific, benefits and tools for integrated action and SLCP mitigation, and initiatives on enhancing NDCs from select ASEAN member-states.

Outputs and results arising from the initial discussion are expected to prepare the region to collectively bring forth commitments and potential options to upscale climate actions during the UN Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit in New York and in the 15th ASEAN Plus Three Environment Ministers Meeting, both in September this year.

The discussion is likewise expected to serve as an impetus for greater action and ambition on air pollution, health and climate that could significantly contribute to the High-Level Officials Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment. #

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has assured that there will be no letup in the fight against climate change and disaster risks as building resilient communities remains a top priority for the government.

“Sa mga darating na araw at buwan, patuloy nating palalakasin ang ating mga programa at polisiya. Patuloy nating titiyakin ang katatagan ng kinabukasan ng ating bansa,” Cimatu said during the pre-State of the Nation Address (SONA) Forum held in Davao City on July 17.

The forum came five days before President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his fourth SONA on July 22.

As a way forward, Cimatu said the Duterte administration will continue to pursue policy reforms that integrate climate and disaster risk considerations into development policies, strategies, plans and programs.

Cimatu said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will continue to coordinate closely with other line agencies under the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR) to ensure that they work together toward the goal of establishing adaptive and resilient communities.

The DENR chief co-chairs the cluster with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, while the Climate Change Commission acts as the cluster secretariat. The members include the Executive Secretary, the Cabinet Secretary, and the heads of the Presidential Management Staff, the Department of Budget and Management, the National Economic and Development Authority, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Finance, and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

Other members are the secretaries of the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Energy (DOE), the chairpersons of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council, and the heads of the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office, Presidential Communications Operations Office, National Security Council, and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Cimatu said the Cabinet cluster supports the creation of the Department of Disaster Resilience and other legislative proposals that promote disaster and climate resilience, such as the proposed National Land Use Act, Land Administration Reform Act, Integrated Coastal Management Act, and National Building Code of the Philippines.

“With the help of Congress, we intend to adopt a national land use policy that will optimize balanced development,” Cimatu said. “We hope to achieve this through rational and just allocation, utilization, management and development of our country’s land resources under the proposed National Land Use Act.”

This policy, he said, will be complemented by the planned delineation of forest limits, which would enable the DENR to sustainably manage, conserve and protect the country’s remaining forests from further depletion.

Meanwhile, Cimatu said the proposed Land Administration Act seeks to improve the land sector as a driver to sustainable development, economic growth and poverty alleviation.

“Hindi lamang pangangalaga sa kalikasan ang pakay natin,” Cimatu explained. “Misyon din natin na mapakinabangan ng mamamayan ang likas na yaman sa mas mahabang panahon para lalo pang mapabuti ang kalagayan nila sa buhay.”

Cimatu said the cluster will work for the swift enactment of the Integrated Coastal Management Act, which would ensure optimum and sustainable resource utilization of coastal and marine environment.

He said the establishment of a department devoted to disaster resilience is necessary to help the government manage broader climate-disaster governance arrangements, and oversee the implementation of disaster risk and vulnerability reduction and management.

The cluster, according to Cimatu, also supports proposal to prohibit the conversion of irrigated lands as it would address the threats to the country’s food security.

He said that crucial to the government’s strategy was the proposed National Building Code of the Philippines, which aims to provide a framework for minimum standards and requirements for all buildings and structures so that government can regulate and control their location, site, construction, use, occupancy and maintenance.

At the same time, Cimatu said the government will provide the ability to generate, synthesize and disseminate knowledge, methodologies and decision-making tools to ensure climate resilience.

To cite an example, Cimatu said the DOST commits the installation of more than a dozen doppler weather radars and high frequency doppler radar networks in various parts of the country.

The DOST, he added, is also set to install several flood forecasting and warning systems in major river basins, a borehole seismic station in Kanlaon Volcano in Negros Island, and a probabilistic seismic hazard analysis in Metro Davao.

On the other hand, the DICT will implement programs on communications technology to prepare the communities and local government units in case of disasters.

“Lahat po ito ay gagawin natin para mabigyan ng panahon ang ating mga kababayan na lumikas bago pa man dumating ang bagyo,” Cimatu said.

“Sisiguruhin natin na walang pamilyang Pilipino ang nasa peligro sa panahon ng kalamidad,” he added.

Cimatu also revealed that the DOE will intensify development of renewable energy in off-grid areas for wider access of populace.

The government will continue to mainstream the use of alternative fuels and energy technology in the transport sector, as well as monitor the implementation of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Act, Cimatu said.

To ensure quick restoration of energy services during and after calamities, Cimatu said the government will strengthen energy systems and facilities through the energy resiliency program.

He also said that the government will provide financial assistance for disaster mitigation, preparedness and rehabilitation of damaged electric cooperatives. #

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has lauded the efforts of the Dynamic Art Group for organizing an art exhibit in support of the ongoing rehabilitation of the highly polluted Manila Bay.

The exhibit, which ran from June 18 to July 27 at The Gallery of Solaire Resort and Casino in Parañaque City, features paintings of the historic bay during its glory days or long before the government decided to place it on rehabilitation due to serious environmental degradation.

“Through this exhibit, we are reminded about the glory of Manila Bay back during the days so that we may focus on the goal of sustaining the same thing for the next generations,” Cimatu said.

The paintings were created by artists Vic Bachoco, Esther Garcia, Maxi Ramos, Jun Rocha, August Santiago, Fernando Sena, Fritz Silorio, Bing Siochi, Ely Tablizo, and Myk Velasco.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGU Concerns Benny D. Antiporda, who delivered a speech during the opening of the exhibit, emphasized that cleaning Manila Bay also aims to clean the culture of the Filipino people.

“It is the next generation who will suffer with what we are doing, and that, we will not permit,” Antiporda said.

He added: “When we started this project, people thought we were crazy, and yet we succeeded [with Boracay]. And now, Boracay is too small of a project compared with Manila Bay. Now, if we will succeed here in Manila Bay, Manila Bay will be too small of a project if we clean up the whole country.”

Paintings that are displayed in the exhibit include the Manila Bay Yacht Club with the famous Manila Bay sunset and a portrait of Secretary Cimatu.

The Manila Bay rehabilitation was launched in January this year pursuant to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s directive.

In 2008, the Supreme Court issued a writ of continuing mandamus ordering the DENR and 12 other agencies to restore the waters of Manila Bay to Class SB level.

Class SB level classifies coastal and marine waters as safe for regular use by the public for activities such as bathing, swimming and skin diving. #

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has urged informal settler families (ISFs) living along waterways to do their share in the Manila Bay rehabilitation by availing themselves of the government’s relocation program.

Cimatu said the relocation of ISFs would hasten ongoing efforts to rehabilitate polluted creeks and other waterways that drain into the historic bay, which the government wants to become “swimmable” by December this year.

The environment chief made the appeal when he and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso inspected last weekend an area along Estero de San Antonio Abad in Malate that used to be occupied by 50 ISFs.

The area has been cleared of illegal structures after 50 ISFs agreed to transfer to a relocation site administered by the National Housing Authority (NHA) in Caloocan City’s Tala district, leaving behind 20 ISFs residing along one of Manila’s filthiest esteros.

“We would like to appeal to the remaining 20 families to comply with the requirements of the NHA, so that we can already move them to their new location, to a better place. Hindi ritosaibabaw ng estero,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu noted the significant improvement in Estero de San Antonio Abad since majority of the 71 ISFs living along the creek have left and their houses demolished by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

He revealed that the fecal coliform level in the estero has “dramatically gone down.”

“Napakataas ng coliform level nitodatinaabotsa 1.3 billion [most probable number per 100 milliliters], perongayonumabotnalangsamga 10 million [mpn/100ml],” he said.

However, Cimatu said the cleanup efforts will continue until the coliform bacteria count reaches acceptable level.

“Priority natinangesteronaitonamalinisandahilito ay direktanapumupuntasa Manila Bay,” he pointed out.

The former military chief said the fences surrounding the creek will be removed to comply with the three-meter easement rule and allow more spaces for garbage trucks and people who would take part in the cleanup operations.

The DENR, he added, will continue to coordinate with the Manila city government for the rehabilitation of the Malate creek and other esteros leading to the Manila Bay. #

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is holding a national conference on the use of wildlife forensics as a tool to combat animal trafficking and other wildlife crimes.

The conference, which is being held in Mandaue City from July 16 to 18, brings together government personnel involved in the enforcement of wildlife laws to keep them abreast with the latest on wildlife forensics.

Wildlife forensics is the use of technology and science to support the investigation and prosecution of a wildlife crime.

It can be used to accurately identify suspected wildlife specimens, including illegal products such as pangolin scales or ground turtle meat in powder form.

According to DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, the three-day conference aims to review the training design on wildlife forensics and criminal investigation for use in wildlife enforcement.

“The use of wildlife forensics is now being considered globally as an invaluable tool to combat illegal wildlife trafficking,” Cimatu pointed out.

The resource persons include experts from the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Partnership for Biodiversity Conservation, and Project Wildlife.

DENR Assistant Secretary for Staff Bureaus and concurrent BMB Director Ricardo Calderon said his bureau has been working with the University of the Philippines-Institute of Biology on the application of wildlife forensics in the country.

He said the university has a program that established a reference collection of DNA barcodes of Philippine biodiversity.

“When a wildlife sample arrives in the laboratory, the biologists can compare the DNA sequence and determine its conservation category,” Calderon said.

Calderon also noted an ongoing effort to strengthen the wildlife forensics capability of the country’s law enforcers.

Joining the conference are representatives from DENR field operations offices, Forest Management Bureau, PCSD, and DENR regional offices.

Other participants include delegates from BFAR, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group, Bureau of Customs, National Bureau of Investigation, Philippine Coast Guard, Department of Justice-National Prosecution Service, Office of the Special Envoy on Transnational Crime, School for Investigation and Detective Development, Philippine Center on Transnational Crime, and the International Criminal Police Organization-Manila Bureau.#