Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—in coordination with the mandamus agencies of the Manila Bay rehabilitation—has committed to strengthen the implementation of immediate flood control strategies and long-term defenses following the flooding in Manila last week.

The DENR, through the Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO), on August 9 held an interagency meeting with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and the Manila city government for the “reinforcement of collective actions to address the recent flooding experienced in the city of Manila.”

DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones pointed out that the holistic design of the Manila Bay rehabilitation already involves mitigating measures to accommodate heavy rains and prevent flooding.

“A part of the overall rehabilitation plan is to install mitigating strategies and infrastructures that address flooding. These measures, which are managed by the DPWH and MMDA, are necessary as these ultimately affect the Manila Bay waters,” Leones said.

Meanwhile, MBCO Director Jacob Meimban said Taft-United Nations, Padre Faura, and Ermita-Malate areas that have experienced heavy flooding last week will be prioritized as these are low-lying and flood-prone areas.

He added: “The DPWH and MMDA, with the support of the DENR and city of Manila, are now working on interventions for the declogging of drainage canals, especially in the identified areas.”

Meimban noted that the declogging operations last year have uncovered a significant amount of plastic bottles and grease and oil build-up along drainage canals in Manila. These were observed to come from business establishments and the wanton disposal of garbage in the streets.

During the interagency meeting, the DPWH also sought assistance from the Maynilad Water Services Inc. in the cleanup of drainage lines and disposal of wastes after declogging operations. The water concessionaire committed to help in the declogging operations in the target areas, especially along their sewer lines.

For the DENR’s part, Meimban said the agency is planning to provide funding for the declogging operations as well as install mobile pumping stations in the Baywalk area, reconstruct floodgates, and devise other flooding interventions in coordination with other government agencies.

During the meeting, the DPWH will work on the long-term plans to abate flooding around Manila, especially in the city’s low-lying areas by constructing more box culvert canals and pumping station along T.M. Kalaw and Taft Avenue, in order for the floodwaters to recede immediately.

The measures include the construction of additional drainage connection systems and box culverts, construction of pumping stations and interceptors, and equipment to remove wastes clogging the drainage pipes.

Meimban said that the pipes clogged with waste and the drainage canals with dead-end connections coupled with the extreme weather condition may have contributed to the flooding.

He emphasized that all concerned Mandamus agencies need to work together to address flooding through effective interventions. #

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has lauded the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 11898 or the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Act of 2022, mandating companies to establish EPR programs for their plastic packaging.

DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Director William P. Cuñado said the passage of RA 11898 was timely as it addresses the urgency and necessity for collaboration between the public and private sector to combat environmental damages caused by plastic pollution and climate change.

RA 11898, which lapsed into law on July 30, also amended RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“As President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said in his first State of the Nation Address, the Philippines is among the most vulnerable countries to the effects of climate change. As such, the collaboration of both the public and private sector is deemed urgent and necessary to combat environmental damages that amplify the vulnerability of our country to climate change,” Cuñado said.

Under the new law, companies will have to establish EPR programs for plastic waste reduction, recovery and diversion.

Cuñado said that RA 11898 is a “practical approach to efficient waste management, focusing on waste reduction, recovery, and recycling, and the development of environment-friendly products that advocate the internationally accepted principles on sustainable consumption and production, circular economy, and producers’ full responsibility throughout the life cycle of products.”

Through EPR, “obliged enterprises,” or through their Producer Responsibility Organizations, will have to recover or offset their generated plastic product footprint by 20 percent in 2023 to 80 percent by 2028.

Among the plastic packaging covered by the EPR Law include single or multi-layered plastics such as sachets, rigid plastic packaging products like food and drink containers, single-use plastic bags, and polystyrene.

Penalties for the non-compliance of EPR duties range from P5 million to P20 million, or “twice the cost of recovery and diversion of the footprint or its shortfall, whichever is higher.”

 

Likewise, under RA 11898, the DENR—together with other concerned government agencies, organizations, and stakeholders—will formulate the implementing rules and regulations within 90 days from its effectivity.

Cuñado added that once the EPR law is implemented, a significant amount of plastic wastes will no longer be dumped on creeks, rivers and oceans, or be burned.

Apart from the EPR scheme, the law also reconstituted the composition of the National Solid Waste Management Commission and enhanced the functions and duties and changing of guards of the National Ecology Center.

The law also provides for the expansion and simplification of fiscal incentive schemes to encourage stakeholder involvement both for solid waste management and EPR activities.

Meanwhile, the Pollution Adjudication Board is designated to resolve cases relating to EPR obligations under RA 11898. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) has expressed support for a proposal to tax the consumption of single-use plastics as a proactive measure to curb plastic pollution in the country.
 
“Imposing tax on single-use plastics is a positive development for the environment in several ways. It can promote use of reusable packaging, reduce single-use plastic wastes, and extend the life of sanitary landfills,” EMB Director William P. Cuñado said.
 
Cuñado was reacting to Finance Secretary Benjamin Diokno’s proposal to impose a tax on single-use plastics as part of the country’s commitment to address climate change, as well as to allow the government to earn additional revenues.
 
He said that the DENR has been pushing for a similar tax measure to combat plastic pollution since the administration of former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
 
Cuñado pointed out that the measure will also prompt behavioral change among stakeholders towards proper waste management.
 
“With this proposal, it can potentially replace the ‘throw-away culture’ and address the long-standing problem of plastic wastes ending up in our oceans and waterways,” he said.
 
Single-use plastics are among the primary wastes collected during the DENR’s coastal clean-up campaigns.
 
However, Cuñado acknowledged that implementing the tax measure may need careful deliberations with other government agencies, as “imposing an additional expense on stakeholders need to be reasonable and beneficial.”
 
The EMB chief is hoping for the institutionalization of a circular economy that aims to reuse, re-manufacture, or recycle waste.
 
Republic Act 11898 or the Extended Producer Responsibility Act of 2022, which lapsed into law on July 23, 2022, aims to institutionalize the Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR system in Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.
 
Under the EPR scheme, manufacturers will be responsible for the treatment, disposal, or recycling of their post-consumer products.
 
“As long as there is an abundant supply of disposable plastics produced, consumers will always use these out of convenience. But, if these will be taxed, it may serve as motivation for the public to opt for reusable or recyclable products, which can result in a waste-free behavior for the betterment of the environment,” Cuñado said.
 
Since the National Solid Waste Management Commission approved in February 2021 the inclusion of plastic soft drink straw and plastic coffee stirrer in the list of non-environmentally acceptable products, the EMB has been holding public consultations on the phaseout schedule of these single-use plastics. ###
 
 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) has warned the public against releasing frogs and fish in swamps and stagnant water to fight the dengue outbreak, as it can disrupt the ecological balance of the surrounding environment.

BMB Director Natividad Bernardino explained that placing frogs and fish is not an effective solution to eliminate dengue-causing mosquitoes as they have “diverse diet from plant materials to small invertebrates.”

“While adult frogs eat a variety of things, mosquitoes do not appear to be a major part of the diet of any adult frog or toad,” she explained.

Citing a 2016 study by biologist Jodi Rowley on the effectiveness of frogs to combat the Zika virus, Bernardino said that “mosquitoes make up only less than 1 percent of the frog’s diet.”

According to the Bernardino, the cane toad, known as Rhinella marina, which is being released by some local government units supposedly to combat dengue, is one of the worst invasive alien species in the world

“When introduced to a new environment, non-native species of frogs and fishes may become invasive and alter the biodiversity of the area,” she warned.

The Convention on Biological Diversity defines invasive alien species as “organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem, and which may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health.”

She added that invasive species can negatively affect human health by directly infecting humans with new diseases, serving as vectors for certain diseases, or causing wounds through bites, stings, allergens, or other toxins.

The proliferation of mosquitoes is largely attributed to environmental conditions that encourage the reproduction of disease vectors. These conditions include dirty surroundings, stagnant man-made canals and interference to natural water flows and decline in the quality of wetlands such as streams, creek, rivers, swamps and marshes due to solid wastes, invasive plants, and structures.

“The existence of natural predators in these wetland ecosystems, given that they are kept in their natural state or properly maintained, should also help control population of mosquitoes and invasive alien species should never be an option,” she said.

In a joint advisory on the use of frogs and fish to combat the dengue-causing mosquitoes, known as Aedes aegypti, the DENR, Department of Health, and Department of the Interior and Local Government, stressed that improving the quality of the environment is among the solutions to this water-related vector borne disease.

The DENR advised the public to keep the surroundings clean, maintain unobstructed water flows of water ways, and keep freshwater ecosystems healthy to remove possible breeding grounds of mosquitoes. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) welcomed the nomination of Ma. Antonia “Toni” Yulo-Loyzaga as its new Secretary under the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
 
DENR OIC Secretary Ernesto D. Adobo Jr. expressed optimism over Yulo-Loyzaga’s nomination, as he envisions a more climate-resilient Philippines under her leadership.
 
“The DENR family looks forward to the effective and efficient implementation of the Department’s mandate under the new Secretary’s leadership. With her expertise and competence in climate and disaster resilience, I see better days ahead for the environment and for the Filipino people,” said Adobo, who is also the DENR Undersecretary for Legal, Administration, Human Resources, and Legislative Affairs.
 
He added: “The previous DENR administration ended with significant achievements in its programs on solid waste management, biodiversity, rehabilitation of Boracay Island and Manila Bay, and restoration of heavily silted rivers under the Task Force Build Back Better. We assure the new Secretary that she has our full support. We will work with her for the effective implementation of environmental laws, programs, and projects under the new administration.”
 
Adobo pointed out that the environment is still faced with several challenges, such as disasters caused by climate change, environmental pollution, illegal wildlife activities, and various issues on land, mining, biodiversity loss and forestry.
 
He said that these issues have to be addressed not just by the DENR with Yulo-Loyzaga as its new Secretary, but by everyone being part of the solution.
 
Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles announced the nomination of Yulo-Loyzaga as the next DENR chief on July 12.
 
Known for her expertise in climate and disaster resilience, Yulo-Loyzaga has experience in leading and working with the National Resilience Council, Manila Observatory, Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines Command and General Staff College.
 
With the environmental expertise of Yulo-Loyzaga and support of President Marcos in prioritizing climate change issues, Adobo said he is certain that climate actions will be strengthened and that the compliance of the Philippines to the Paris Agreement on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions will be fulfilled.
 
As the new DENR Secretary, Yulo-Loyzaga is tasked to uphold the Agency’s mandate that aims for the conservation, management, development, and sustainable use of the country’s ecosystems and natural resources. ###