DENR spearheads World Water Day 2018 celebration

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will spearhead the local celebration of the World Water Day (WWD) this year, with focus on the role of nature in addressing the biggest water-related problems in the early 21st century.

WWD is observed annually on March 22 to raise awareness about the importance of water and sustainable development. This year’s theme is “Nature for Water,” which emphasizes the potential for nature-based solutions (NbS) to address mounting water-related problems facing the planet.

The DENR, through its River Basin Control Office (RBCO), will kick off the WWD celebration at the La Mesa Nature Reserve in Quezon City on March 15.

Developed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the NbS concept promotes nature conservation and development, such as introducing agroforestry and restoring wetlands to improve access to food.

RBCO Executive Director Antonio M. Daño said this year’s celebration aims to “inspire people around the world to learn more about water-related issues, share it to other people, and take action to make a difference, particularly to developing countries.”

As part of the WWD observance, water concessionaire Manila Water Company Inc. will host a five-kilometer “nature walk”—a physical and educational activity— at 8:30 a.m. on March 15 at the La Mesa Nature Reserve.

“Participants will be taught about the reserve’s native trees and birds to gain a deeper appreciation of the value of taking care of ecosystems and protecting the watershed,” Daño said.

On the same day, DENR-National Capital Region (NCR) will host the Lakbay Manila Bay at the La Mesa Arboretum in Quezon City.

Other activities include Eco Experience in Biak na Bato Nature Park, Bulacan (March 16); World Water Day at Pangil River Eco-Tourism Park, Laguna (March 16-17); Underground River Trail Nature Walk, Palawan (March 18); Summit on Bamboo Plantation and Production at the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) Multipurpose Court (March 20); and Plant for Life Mangrove Planting, Malabon City (March 21).

The highlight of the celebration is the World Water Day Awards, sponsored by Maynilad, LWUA, Laguna Lake Development Authority, DENR-NCR, National Water Resources Board, Environmental Management Bureau, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, and Department of Public Works and Highways.

Slated for March 22, the award-giving body will honor individuals, institutions, and programs that made strides in achieving water and water environment sustainability in the Philippines.

Since 2015, a total of 54 “water champions” have been recognized which include leaders of indigenous peoples, community workers, media personalities, local government units and academe based organizations.

The following are the awards to be given out this year: Kampeon ng Lawa; Huwarang Lingkod Tubig; Kampeon ng Katubigan Award; Water-Wise City Award; Water Leadership Award; Huwarang Alagad ng Ilog Pasig; and Water Warrior Award.

The awarding ceremony will be held at Novotel Manila in Cubao, Quezon City at 2 p.m. on March 22. ### 


Cimatu lauds law enforcement authorities behind large wildlife bust

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has commended personnel of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the rescue of over 300 smuggled live animals and arrest of four suspects in what has been dubbed as one of the country’s largest wildlife busts.

The successful operation was carried out on Tuesday by joint operatives from the NBI-Environmental Crime Division and the DENR’s Philippine Operations Group of Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade, also known as Task Force POGI.

“We feel proud that we have an accomplishment to share to the Filipino people,” Cimatu said after personally witnessing the turnover of the seized animals to the Wildlife Resources Center of the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau in Quezon City.

The environment chief added: “We are not talking about mining, we are not talking about pollution, but we are talking about conservation. This is really our main purpose in the DENR.”

Cimatu already ordered the filing of criminal charges against the suspects identified as Abraham Fulla Bernales, Juner Bawenti, Nestor Torion and Jose Bandingan for violating provisions of Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

“This serves both as an accomplishment and warning to those who are thinking in doing such [illegal] actions as far as these wild animals are concerned,” Cimatu said.

Among the animals rescued from the suspects are 110 squirrel-like sugar gliders, 7 red birds of paradise and 26 Moluccan cockatoos, which wildlife monitor International Union for Conservation of Nature considers to be at high risk of extinction in the wild. The wildlife species could be native to Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

According to BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim, the DENR will “provide the best available animal care” for the rescued wildlife species.

“The animals will also be screened for two months to make sure they are free from any disease,” said Lim, a licensed veterinarian.

In the meantime, Lim said the BMB will have to determine the actual origin of the animals.

“If it is still possible to repatriate them, we will so that they could go back to their natural habitat. But if it is no longer possible, we will see if we can take care of them in the long term and use them for educational purposes,” Lim said.

Lim said there are environmental conservation partners and animal welfare groups from the non-government organization who are willing to help the DENR in taking care of the species using their own resources.

She noted that all the animals that were collected are tropical animals, so they are able to survive in the country’s weather conditions.

“We can communicate with the country where they originated, so that they could be returned to their natural habitat. We cannot release them here in the Philippines since these species are not endemic here,” Lim pointed out. # 


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