Press Releases

 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed hope that the environmental laws will be "more adequately and effectively enforced" throughout the country with the recent launch of a special course for DENR frontliners and uniformed personnel.

"Environmental crimes are evolving, thus, also presenting a clear threat to our state security. Our enemies can now cross borders with ease. They are more sophisticated, syndicated, and organized," Cimatu said.

The DENR launched the special course on enforcement frontliners through its Environment and Natural Resources (ENR) Academy at the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Amphitheater on Sept. 17.

During the program, a ceremonial signing of the enforcement manuals and curriculum modules was conducted together with the Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS) and the Human Resources Development Service (HRDS).

These enforcement manuals and curriculum modules were officially turned over to Cimatu by Undersecretary for Legal, Administration, Human Resources and Legislative Affairs Ernesto Adobo, Jr., Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito Antonio De Leon, ELEPS OIC Director Ret. BGen. Reuel Sorilla, and HRDS Director Ric Enriquez, Ph.D.

The entire course, which will run from Sept. 17 to Oct. 22, 2021, consists of five modules with two weeks of webinar, two weeks of practicum, and 12-hour community service on the field.

The participants consist of 44 personnel from the DENR Central Office and field offices, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine National Police-Maritime Group, Armed Forces of the Philippines at Philippine Air Force.

Cimatu said the training course will provide the environmental frontliners the proper concepts, skills, and techniques in enforcement.

"With this course, our environmental defenders will be more competent, especially in utilizing appropriate modern technologies to their advantage," he added.

Cimatu also said that the DENR's interim office, the ELEPS together with the HRDS "will make us realize our vision to create a more systematic and professionalized environmental law enforcement within the DENR."

According to the DENR chief, "strengthening the existing mechanisms in environmental law enforcement, regulations, and policies is needed to address dangers posed not only to the environment but also to those who protect it."

"We are at war against environmental criminals to protect our environment and our people. However, the saddest part of our battle is losing people in the line of duty. These are our environmental heroes who were mercilessly murdered while on duty or on their job, some were gunned down, some hacked to death," Cimatu said.

Last June, five DENR workers were inducted into the roster of environmental heroes by the Environmental Heroes Foundation Inc. (EHFI) for the World Environment Day celebration. They were killed while performing their duties as environmental defenders.

Families of the honorees received the posthumous awards consisting of plaques of recognition and livelihood assistance amounting to P1.8 million through the EHFI.

"No amount of money, awards, or recognition, or even promotion can ever replace the lives of the people who died defending our environment and natural resources. A single life lost is one too many to move anyone to pursue steps and stop this trend," Cimatu said. ###

 

 

As part of its climate change mitigation efforts, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) recently launched the second phase of the implementation plan for the phase out the ozone-depleting hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) by 2040.

The launch of the second tranche activities of the Hydrochlorofluorocarbons Phase out Management Plan (HPMP) for the Philippines Stage 2 coincided with the celebration of the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer on Sept. 16.

"By phasing out the use of these ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in the country, we have already contributed to the mitigation of climate change," DENR Undersecretary for Planning, Policy and International Affairs and ODS National Coordinator Jonas R. Leones said in his welcome message.

In 1991, the Philippines adopted the Montreal Protocol, a Multilateral Environmental Agreement that aims to phase out ODS such as HCFCs by replacing them with ozone-friendly alternatives to prevent the thinning of the ozone layer, curb the effects of climate change, and help boost energy efficiency in the cooling sector.

HCFCs, which are used in refrigerators and air conditioners, big chillers and mobile chillers that preserve food and vaccines, are the last group of ODS which is still due for phase out by 2040.

The HPMP Stage 2, which will run until 2022, targets to reduce the HCFC consumption by 50 percent in 2021 and is expected to prevent a minimum of 0.5 million carbon dioxide equivalent tons of emissions.

"This project is a timely support to the government because this will help in terms of its international obligations and meet its commitment to the Montreal Protocol," UNIDO Project Coordinator Bellrose B. Buraga said.

Other partners for the project are the Department of Energy, Department of Trade and Industry, Bureau of Customs, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and the private sector.

Buraga explained that the HPMP Stage 2 specifically aims to ban the manufacture of HCFC-22 or R-22 air conditioners with a cooling capacity of less than 36,000 BTU/hr (British thermal unit) and on imports of HCFC-22 air conditioners.

It also targets to provide technical assistance to enforcement and custom authorities and the refrigeration and air conditioner sector, leverage on industry cooperation through trainings and studies, strengthen licensing and performance standards, and promote the use of low global warming potentials or GWPs alternatives, among others.

"In the year 2018, our consumption of HCFC already reduced by 34.6% near to the year 2020 target of 35% reduction from the HCFC baseline consumption. The 2019 reduction rate is at 35.94%. For 2020, the importation data (68.75%) has drastically decreased mainly because of the global pandemic that we are still currently experiencing," said DENR-EMB Assistant Director Vizminda A. Osorio during her presentation on the HCFC phase-out implementation status.

The government has successfully phased out the use of HCFC-141B in the foam manufacturing sector during the Stage 1 of the HPMP implementation from 2014 to 2017.

Osorio also gave updates on the status of the ratification of the Kigali Amendment, the reform to the Montreal Protocol which aims to phase down the production and consumption of HFCs —considered to be the potent greenhouse gases that contribute significantly to climate change —starting 2029.

She added that the DENR has already endorsed the Certificate of Concurrences of the Kigali Amendment to the Department of Foreign Affairs for endorsement to the Office of the President.

In anticipation of the Kigali Amendment's ratification, the DENR-EMB has already prepared the Chemical Control Order for the phase-down of HFCs.

It is also closely coordinating with importers and the refrigeration and air conditioning sector for substitute to HFCs that are available and economically viable to consumers.

"Our government is serious in its commitment to the global phase out of ozone-depleting substances, and later to phase-down HFCs once the ratification process on the Kigali Amendment is completed," Leones said.

In 1994, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Sept. 16 as the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date of the signing of the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.

This year's celebration has the theme, "Montreal Protocol Keeping Us, Our Food and Vaccines Cool." ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) continues to enhance its information, education and communication (IEC) strategies to keep environment conservation relevant amidst the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"The DENR is doing its part to reach out to the public through various platforms—webinars and social media to overcome the challenges of personal interactions due to the pandemic," DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

The DENR chief also said: "The COVID-19 pandemic is a major reason why we at the DENR intensified the IEC campaigns – for us to realize that maintenance of ecosystems services and a clean and healthy environment are the requirements to prevent diseases which are zoonotic in origin, such as COVID-19.”

“Zoonotic diseases are a result of disruption of nature’s processes, and destruction of habitats leading to increased human-wildlife- livestock interactions which could facilitate the transmission of wild viruses. A crisis like this can be prevented if we just change our ways and behavior in dealing with nature,” he added.

Cimatu cited that the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) has just launched Samot-Sari, a five-part web series shown in the DENR-BMB’s online platforms, among its other existing IEC campaigns.

Through these programs, the DENR-BMB continues to reach out to its stakeholders and the Filipino people about the importance of protecting our forests, freshwater and marine ecosystems, government programs, laws and the role of every citizen in protecting these natural ecosystems.

"Aside from BMB’s endeavors, we also have the Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service (SCIS)—the official communication arm of the Department—which consistently provides the stakeholders and the general public relevant information on finding balance between maintenance of the environment and economic development," Cimatu said.

The DENR chief said they also support other initiatives, such as the Our Fragile Earth--a docuseries featuring the Philippines’ protected areas while educating the stakeholders and the Filipino people on the importance of the country’s diverse and unique biological heritage.

Our Fragile Earth, which was conceptualized and hosted by House Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda, was produced by the DENR-BMB.

During the virtual press briefer for the Our Fragile Earth series, Legarda underscored the need to understand why educating and spreading the information is important.

"How can we conserve what we do not know about, what we do not understand?" Legarda lamented.

"Our people’s energies must be used to defend our natural heritage. We must all work together to conserve wildlife and nature and mitigate disasters worsened by climate change. Our survival also depends on how well we understand our surroundings," she added.

In partnership with Legarda’s office, the DENR-BMB also holds the Protected Area (PA) Talk, which showcases the various facets of PA management, which include a partnership with local governments, private sector, civil society organizations, and other government agencies; law enforcement; sustainable and innovative financing; PA governance; enhancement of biodiversity; impact on local communities; innovations; and engagement with local communities and indigenous peoples.

PA Talk has already streamed six episodes featuring 22 protected areas since June 22, 2020, via the Facebook pages of Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda and the DENR- BMB.

Last March, the DENR through the BMB also launched the eLearning course for Basic Wildlife Law Training and the Wildlife Philippines Podcast in partnership with the Asian Development Bank and the Global Environment Facility Illegal Wildlife Trade Project, and USAID-Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Project 3.

The DENR through its Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), also launched public access to various significant studies on environment and natural resources. Journals that can be downloaded from their official website include Sylvatrop, Canopy International, and Research Information Series on Ecosystems or RISE last year.

Through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), the National Solid Waste Management Commission has launched a short online course on solid waste management, which can now be accessed for free via TESDA’s official website.

According to Cimatu, there will be "more IEC campaigns that will be launched not only by the BMB, ERDB, EMB, and the SCIS but by all the other bureaus of the DENR through their online platforms."

Legarda said that while the pandemic recovery may be long, “it needs to be seen through a lens of a human being who understands environment, climate, and sustainability.”

"COVID-19 is an environmental issue at hand," said Legarda, who is principal author of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018 or Republic Act 11038.

Through RA 11038, a total of 94 protected areas were added to the existing 13 legislated protected areas, adding up to a total of 107 legislated protected areas all over the country.

"We see the connection between environment and climate on one hand, and pandemic recovery on the other. We cannot fight COVID-19 without also fighting for nature and the environment," Legarda added. ###

 

The Environmental Law Enforcement and Protection Service (ELEPS) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has arrested four illegal loggers in the municipality of Tabuk in Kalinga province on Sept. 2.

The operations conducted by DENR-ELEPS, together with the Kalinga Provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources, DENR-Cordillera Administrative Region, and DENR’s Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF), also led to the confiscation of illegally cut acacia logs and a chainsaw.

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the operations only show the DENR’s resilience and perseverance despite the threat of the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus disease.

"Our dedicated men and women in our enforcement arm just proved once again that we are committed to constantly protect our environment and natural resources even in the face of a deadly pandemic," Cimatu said.

Those charged for violating Section 77 of Presidential Decree (PD) 705, otherwise known as the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, as amended, and Section 7(4) of Republic Act (RA) 9175 or the Chainsaw Act of 2002 were Vincent Dalanao, Archie Cadalina, Victor Manya-aw, and Fioni Tamaw.

Section 77 of PD 705, Unlawful possession of implements and devices used by forest officers, states that offenders will be imprisoned for up to four years and pay a maximum fine of P10,000.

Meanwhile, Section 7(4) of RA 9175 states that "any person who is found to be in possession of a chainsaw and uses the same to cut trees and timber in forest land without authorization shall be penalized up to a maximum of eight years and a maximum fine of P50,000."

Last August, the DENR and the Department of Trade and Industry discussed the regulations involving the buying and selling of chainsaws through online platforms.

For his part, DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement Benito Antonio De Leon said that the DENR "aims to empower the enforcement officers to protect them amid these dangerous operations."

"We believe in the capabilities and dauntlessness of our men and women in the face of these environmental culprits. To further support their dedication and enhance their skills, we in the Department will continue training and retooling their abilities for both personal and institutional development," De Leon said.

The DENR launched on Friday, Sept. 17, a special course on enforcement to enhance the skills of the enforcement personnel in analyzing pieces of evidence, apprehending suspects, and in following the rules of criminal procedures in environmental cases. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is seeking a P25.29-billion budget for 2022 to bankroll programs that will steer the national government's agenda toward green growth.

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu presented the DENR’s 2022 proposed budget during the budget hearing of the House Committee on Appropriations on Monday, Sept. 13.

Cimatu said the proposed budget will help the department fulfill its water resilience and water security programs to adapt to climate change and recover from the setback caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

"We shall be focusing on the strategic thrust of water resilience and water security to heighten integrated watershed management, promote sustainable livelihood for the upland communities, address pollution, protect wildlife and biodiversity," he pointed out.

Cimatu underscored the need for the government to pursue transformative actions by embracing green growth in addressing the unprecedented tasks toward recovery.

"The DENR’s thrust in 2022 will strengthen the foundation for strategic investments in nature that is seen to promote not just economic growth, but green growth for a more equitable and sustainable future for the country," he said.

The DENR chief said that priority support will also be given to 24 provinces with high susceptibility to climate hazards and high poverty incidences. These are Masbate, Sorsogon, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Western Samar, Sarangani, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Islands, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte , Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Catanduanes and Siquijor.

Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Iloilo, and Metro Davao are also part of the "priority geographic focus" to address the carrying capacities of these major urban hubs.

During the budget deliberation, DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems and Climate Change Atty. Analiza Rebuelta-Teh said the DENR’s proposed budget is 7 percent higher than the agency’s 2021 approved budget of P23.59 billion.

Based on the DENR's proposed budget, P9.7 billion will be allocated to its 10 priority programs consisting of the Enhanced National Greening Program, P3.7 billion; Enhanced Biodiversity Conservation, P1.01 billion; Manila Bay Rehabilitation, P1.67 billion; Solid Waste Management, P1.07 billion; Clean Air, P143 million; Clean Water, P315.49 million; Intensified Forest Protection and Anti-illegal logging, P696.4 million; Improved Land Administration and Management, P415.3 million; Geo-Hazard, Groundwater Assessment and Responsible Mining, P407.7 million; and Scaling Up of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Programs, P271.8 million.

Cagayan de Oro 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez recommended increasing the DENR's proposed budget, asking Cimatu to submit the DENR's proposed augmentation, particularly for the 10 priority programs.

"That is not fair to the DENR which is working hard for our environment," Rodriguez said.

He lamented over "why only 7 percent" was the increase from DENR’s 2021 budget, citing that the agency has performed well despite a meager budget and the ongoing pandemic.

"We understand that this was due to the limited fiscal space. But we agree with you that we really have to invest more on environment and natural resources management if you want to recover from the pandemic and promote green growth amidst this health crisis, Mr. Chair," Teh said.

For the past 10 years, DENR’s approved budget has been less than 1 percent of the national appropriations.

Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco, Jr. who sponsored the DENR’s proposed budget, has supported Rodriguez’s proposal.

Haresco also pointed out that Buhay Partylist Rep. Jose Atienza backed the additional appropriations for the DENR's proposed budget for 2022. ###