DENR to set up MGB office in resource-rich Dinagat Islands

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is setting up a satellite office of its Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in the resource-rich province of Dinagat Islands, nearly eight decades since it was declared a mineral reservation area.

The establishment of an MGB satellite office in Caraga region’s newest province is pursuant to DENR Administrative Order No. 2018-01 recently issued by Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

Cimatu said the move is expected to strengthen the enforcement of mining laws and regulations in Dinagat Islands, which was declared a mineral reservation area in 1939.

Formerly part of Surigao del Norte province, Dinagat Islands has abundant mineral deposits, particularly nickel and chromite. It is also blessed with a rich biological diversity.

“We have to prevent or totally stop degradation of Dinagat Islands which may have been caused by mining operations in the area,” Cimatu said.

“Establishing a satellite office there would help ensure that we protect the richness of its biodiversity from the mountains to the sea, benefitting more of its inhabitants,” he added.

The establishment of satellite offices in the countryside is one of the policy reforms being introduced by Cimatu to ensure “a people-oriented mining sector that would protect the environment, contribute more significantly to the national income, and be world-class and competitive.”

The administrative order provides that the Dinagat Islands satellite office would be under the direct supervision and management of the Regional Director of MGB-Caraga. The MGB central office, meanwhile, would provide funds to support the creation of the satellite office.

Since it was declared a mineral reservation, Dinagat Islands’ rich natural environment has been threatened by mining operations.

Dinagat Islands has a high ecotourism potential with its beautiful islands and beaches. It has been included in the list of key biodiversity areas for being sanctuary to a number of endemic species of animals and plants, including the critically endangered Dinagat bushy-tailed cloud rat, writhed hornbill, and Philippine Tarsier.

A 200-hectare natural bonsai forest can also be found straddling Mt. Redondo and Kambinliw in Loreto town. The forest has a pending application for declaration as a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or UNESCO. ### 

Cimatu reminds LGU of its ‘shared responsibility’ to enforce environmental laws in Boracay

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is reminding the municipal government of Malay in Aklan province of its responsibility to protect and preserve the world-famous Boracay Island through strict implementation of pertinent environmental laws and regulations.
Cimatu, who has been tasked by President Rodrigo Duterte to address the environmental problems besetting Boracay in six months, said the local government shares with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the responsibility to enforce laws on environmental protection and conservation.
“The local government of Malay has direct jurisdiction and supervision over Boracay. It is the primary government unit responsible in ensuring that all laws, environmental or otherwise, are executed and followed,” Cimatu pointed out.
Cimatu said he is expecting the local government of Aklan to give its all-out support for the DENR and other concerned agencies for them to meet the deadline set by the President.
“Just like students who are told to pass their papers, finished or not finished, on a set deadline, the same will be for us in the DENR. We have to put an end to this huge Boracay problem in six months,” Cimatu said.
The former Armed Forces chief said that within the next six months, the DENR will lead the “transformation” of Boracay starting with the removal of illegal structures that largely contributed to environmental problems facing the island paradise.
Cimatu said he favors a moratorium on the construction of new buildings and the opening of new business establishments, especially in the beach area.
“We have to go back to the core of the problem which is the strict enforcement of all existing laws and the protection of the environment,” Cimatu said.
The environment chief had already instructed DENR Region 6 Director Jim Sampulna to evaluate the 300 establishments and if found violating the laws and regulations, to immediately issue Notices of Violation (NOV).
As of today, 51 establishments have been issued NOVs for violating Chapter 5 Section 27 of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9275 or the Clean Water Act of 2004.
The law requires all commercial and residential establishments to dispose septic waste through a treatment facility.
“Let this Boracay issue serve notice to local governments, businesses and residents of other tourism destinations to strictly follow all our laws. Let us not allow the other beautiful and pristine islands in the country to suffer the fate of Boracay,” Cimatu said.
Last week, President Duterte threatened to shut down Boracay Island, which he described as a “cesspool,” following reports that thousands of establishments there have no proper sewage treatment facilities and are directly discharging their untreated wastewater into the sea. ### 

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