Press Releases

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and Task Force Build Back Better (TFBBB) co-chair Roy A. Cimatu said the government is all set for the removal of sandbars along the constricted section of Cagayan River called "Magapit Narrows" by late January or early February.

"This is a strategic move in the short-term while medium- and long-term solutions for the flooding in Cagayan Valley are still underway," Cimatu said during the Jan. 7 meeting of the TFBBB, which he co-chairs with Secretary Mark Villar of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

The three sandbars are located in Magapit Narrows, which is being described by the DPWH as the "constriction point" in the mid-stream portion of the 500-kilometer Cagayan River.

The DPWH reported that the three sandbars have a total estimated volume of seven million cubic meters, covering 235 hectares of sandbars.

These are located at Barangay Bangag in Lal-lo town covering 11.4 hectares with 334,305 cubic meters of sand; Casicallan Norte, Gattaran that covers 89 hectares with 2.7 million cubic meters of sand; and Dummun, Gattaran covering 174.70 hectares with 4.04 million cubic meters of sand.

Of the 19 priority sandbars, Cimatu explained that the DPWH has recommended the immediate dredging of the three sandbars in the Magapit Narrows as these significantly hinder the flow of flood water to the Aparri Delta and finally to the Babuyan Channel.

The DENR chief said the TFBBB is tapping the resources of other national agencies to fast track the removal of the three sandbars, which the DPWH estimates to be completed after a year.

Six units of dredging equipment, which are modular type for ease of transport and assembly in the dredging sites, will be deployed by the DPWH in Magapit Narrows.

The removal of sandbars will be done in 250-meter segments or blocks, while the use of geotubes is proposed for the management of dredged materials.

"This is another showcase of whole-of-government approach," Cimatu said, stressing that the strategy "will drastically reduce the flooding problem in Cagayan Valley."

Twenty-four dump trucks, five bulldozers, five scoop loaders, four prime movers with long bed, and two backhoe loaders from the Armed Forces of the Philippines are on stand-by for deployment to augment the equipment of the DPWH.

Cimatu also ordered DENR-Cagayan Valley Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan to coordinate with her local counterparts at the Department of Labor and Employment and Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to ask for assistance from the beneficiaries of Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/ Displaced Workers program as well as TESDA-trained heavy equipment operators and mechanics in the dredging activities.

DPWH Secretary Mark Villar welcomed Cimatu's move to beef up DPWH’s manpower needs with the project operating in two three-hour shifts. ###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has ordered the establishment of engineering interventions and strict enforcement of environmental laws to stop illegal wastewater discharge along Roxas Boulevard amid the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“In order to solve the pollution in the waters of Manila Bay, we at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should trace all the illegal pipes that directly drain polluted wastewater to the bay,” Cimatu said.

The DENR chief issued the statement after a culvert or drainage pipe discovered hidden behind boulders at Station 640 along the Manila Baywalk on Roxas Boulevard was found to be discharging untreated wastewater directly into the bay.

Based on water analysis, fecal coliform count in the area was significantly high at 50 million most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml).

After further inspection, three more alleged culverts along the baywalk were discovered. Pipes were found beside the Remedios drainage outfall across Aristocrat Restaurant, Station 240 beside the Padre Faura outfall, and near the Estero San Antonio de Abad outfall.

The coliform level, specifically at the Remedios outfall, was measured at 32 million MPN/100 ml. A total of 33 intake drainages were also observed from the US Embassy to the Manila Yacht Club.

Water coming from these drainages flow into a line drainage canal along the baywalk, drain towards the Remedios outfall, and eventually to Manila Bay.

“We will continue to examine more closely these culverts, illegal connections, and outfalls. Otherwise, these will continue to spew out pollutants that can impede our progress in the rehabilitation of Manila Bay,” Cimatu said.

He added that the DENR will conduct further investigation to determine which establishments are connected to the illegal pipes.

“We will study the legal actions we can pursue against these establishments to ensure that they are made accountable for their violation of environmental laws,” Cimatu said.

“We want to make all violators realize that laws shouldn’t be taken lightly if we want to see a behavior change in the next generations.”

At the same time, Cimatu ordered the immediate plugging of these illegal outfalls in order to stop the flow of untreated waters that continue to pollute the bay, and for concerned establishments to connect to official sewer lines.

He also instructed the Manila Bay Task Force to conduct desiltation and rehabilitation of line drainage canal to improve water flow in the Padre Faura and Remedios outfalls. ###

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has lined up activities this January to celebrate Zero Waste Month and the 20th anniversary of Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

"Solid waste management ranks among the priority programs of the DENR especially in the context of our cleanup efforts in Manila Bay," Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

"Proper disposal of solid waste will avoid the clogging of tributaries and prevent trash from being washed into the rivers and seas that affect aquatic ecosystems, livelihood and health," the DENR chief pointed out.

The DENR has also been at the forefront of the disposal of household healthcare wastes at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), chaired by the DENR Secretary, issued Resolution No. 1364 series of 2020 on the "Interim Guidelines on the Management of COVID-Related Health Care Waste" in April 2020.

The guidelines cover the proper handling and management of all COVID-19 related health care wastes generated by households and other facilities. It also ensures the occupational health and safety of waste workers.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGUs) Concerns and NSWMC Alternate Chair Benny D. Antiporda said solid waste management has now been given the priority and the importance it needs.

This continues, he said, with the activities with LGUs and concerned government agencies and stakeholders.

"We will shatter the notion that solid waste management is the last and the least. Its relevance to the environment, our natural resources, and well-being of the people is primary," Antiporda said.

The month-long celebration will kick-off with a blended virtual and face-to-face seminar on the management of household health care wastes and special wastes on January 8.

A lecture on the Guide on the Conduct of Waste Analysis and Characterization Study (WACS) and guidelines on waste to energy for local government units (LGUs) will be also held on January 13.

DENR has also scheduled public consultations for the month of January on the possible list of Non-Environmentally Acceptable Products (NEAP).

This is in line with RA 9003 that the NSWMC “shall, after public notice and hearing, prepare a list of non-environmentally acceptable products as defined in the Act that shall be prohibited according to a schedule to be prepared by the Commission. The NEAP shall not be prohibited until the Commission finds there are alternatives available to consumers at a cost that is no more than ten percent (10%) greater than the disposable product.”

Likewise, a consultation on the Policy on the Procedural Guidelines for the Clustering of Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF) Among LGUs to Cater Household Hazardous Wastes (HHWs) and Health Care Wastes (HCWs) in an Environmentally Sound Manner will be conducted this month.

The procedural guidelines shall cover facilities deemed as safe shelters of front liners as well as residential units involved in the generation, management and handling of healthcare wastes and household hazardous wastes.

The third meeting of Sanitary Landfill Operators will be held on January 22 to finalize the procedures and strategies in the creation of the Sanitary Landfill Operators of the Philippines. The organization shall support the government in providing the proper disposal facilities to the LGUs in accordance with the provisions of RA 9003.

On January 25, EMB and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) will roll-out the TESDA E-Learning Material on Practicing Solid Waste Management in the Workplace for public use. The material was developed by EMB-Solid Waste Management Division and TESDA.

A culminating activity will be held on January 26 to mark the 20th year of RA 9003 and to highlight the accomplishments of the national agencies which include the NSWMC members, and LGUs in the implementation of the Act.

In December last year, Antiporda and the EMB turned over the first batch of shredder-composter equipment to the local governments of Pampanga including San Fernando City and the towns of Apalit, Candaba, Guagua and Magalang.

EMB targets to distribute initially one unit each of the equipment to the 178 LGUs within the Manila Bay region in 2021. ###


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is targeting in 2021 to provide each of the 178 local government units (LGUs) within the Manila Bay region with industrial-grade shredder-composter machines to help them comply with Republic Act 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGUs Concerns Benny D. Antiporda disclosed this during the turnover of the first batch of shredder-composter equipment to Pampanga LGUs—San Fernando City and the towns of Apalit, Candaba, Guagua and Magalang.

The Manila Bay region is comprised of the National Capital Region and eight provinces from Regions III and IV-A, namely, Bataan, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, Rizal and Cavite.

During the recent turnover ceremony held at the DENR Central Office in Quezon City, Antiporda said the agency will continue to provide LGUs the necessary support to ensure their compliance with RA 9003.

“Sad to say, compliance is slow particularly where LGUs lack the means for full and prompt compliance,” Antiporda lamented.

“This is where the DENR steps in, in line with its mandate to provide technical assistance and other capability-building assistance to LGUs,” he added.

A shredder-composter set includes a brand new composter that can process one ton of compost material within 24 hours, and a brand new shredder with the capacity to process two tons of organic waste per day.

The event was keynoted by Senator Cynthia A. Villar, chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources. It was highlighted by the signing of the project’s Memorandum of Agreement between the DENR and the LGUs represented by their respective local executives.

Citing statistics from the National Solid Waste Management Commission, Antiporda said around 52 percent of the municipal wastes in the country is biodegradable.

Providing LGUs with the equipment, he said, will not only reduce the amount of waste that end up in sanitary landfills but will also transform the diverted wastes into assets as organic fertilizer, which is valuable to agriculture and horticulture.

“Transportation na lang po ang gagastusin nila dito,” Antiporda added, referring to the cost for the farmers availing of the organic fertilizers from the equipment.

Antiporda disclosed that the provision of the equipment will also help increase the collection of recyclable materials, which account for some 28 percent of the country’s municipal wastes.

The difficulty in recovering recyclable materials has been largely blamed to contamination by biodegradable materials like food wastes. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recorded a substantial reduction in air pollution levels in the first day of 2021 in Metro Manila by as much as 59 percent compared to pollution levels recorded last year.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu cited the support of Metro Manila local executives and residents to the government’s effective implementation of Executive Order 28 which limits the use of firecrackers to “community fireworks display” which has been in effect since 2017.

An average concentration of 87 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) of Particulate Matter (PM 10) was obtained by DENR-Environmental Management based on the measured data between 12 midnight of December 31, 2020 to January 1, 2021 from its six air quality monitoring stations (AQMS) in Caloocan, Marikina, Navotas, Pasig, Parañaque and Taguig cities.

Last year, the six AQMS yielded an average of 213 ug/Ncm, thereby accounting for a 59-average percent drop compared to its New Year’s Eve (NYE) data in January 1, 2020

“This attests to the correctness of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s interest to put a nationwide total ban on firecrackers which I believe clearly speaks not only for the President’s strong policy agenda for health and safety, but for sound environmental governance as well,” Cimatu said.

The highest NYE percentage drop recorded are the stations in Naval St., Navotas City with 99 percent from 209 to 1.34 ug/Ncm; Oranbo, Pasig City, 95 percent (130 to 7 ug/Ncm); Bicutan, Taguig City, 78 percent (355 to 79 ug/Ncm); Marikina Justice Hall open compound, Marikina City, 34 percent (189 to 124 ug/Ncm); Caloocan City Hall Annex, Caloocan City, 29 percent (332 to 235 ug/Ncm);

Only the station in Don Bosco Barangay Hall Compound, Paranaque City showed a 21-percent increase from 62 to 75 ug/Ncm.

PM10 in firecrackers are mainly coming from residuals of the explosive powders wrapped in paper which consists of a mixture of sulfur (S), carbon (C), and potassium nitrate (saltpeter, KNO3) and other fine minerals which contains heavy metals. The short-term limit for PM10 is 150 ug/Ncm under the National Ambient Air Quality Guideline Value (NAAQGV) of Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act.

Likewise, the EMB report noted that “the NYE 2021 have significantly lower concentrations of PM2.5 compared to the NYE 2020,” particularly for its station at the Muntinlupa Bilibid open ground in Muntinlupa City which posted a maximum concentration of 12 ug/Ncm between 12 midnight to 2 AM of January 1, 2021. The reading accounts for a 43-percent drop from 22 ug/Ncm obtained for the same period in last year.

The report however noted its Manila City Station measured a high of 93.5 ug/Ncm around 1 AM of January 1, 2021 from a reading of 40.9 ug/Ncm at 11 pm of December 31, 2020. The short-term limit for PM2.5 is 35 ug/Ncm under the NAAQGV of DENR Administrative Order 2020-14 dated Oct. 21, 2020.

These are attributed to “the strict measures being implemented” by Metro Manila Mayors under Metro Manila Development Authority Resolution No. 20-17 "Prohibiting Individual and Household Use of Firecrackers and Other Pyrotechnic Devices During General Community Quarantine".

Compared to PM10, PM2.5 pollutants are finer particles usually emitted by vehicles and burning plants.

These particles can reach the lungs when inhaled, leading to respiratory and circulatory diseases, including brain damage and cancer. ###