The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has given recognition to the agency's environmental partners for their valuable contributions to help carry out the closure of open dumpsites and to prevent the dumping of waste in Manila Bay.

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu handed over the awards and certificates of recognition to government agencies, a non-government organization, and a private company for their support to the strengthened solid waste management campaign of the DENR during the celebration of the 20th year of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and culmination of Zero Waste Month on January 26.

"For the past years, we have been boosting our campaign to address the solid waste problem in our country," Cimatu said.

"The numerous achievements of our Department would not be possible without the help of our active partners," he added.

The Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation-Environmental Crime Division (NBI-EnCD), Ecological Waste (EcoWaste) Coalition, and Maersk Philippines were among the recipients of the award.

Since 2018, the awardees have been participating in the operations of the DENR to tackle the solid waste problem in Manila Bay and the closure of open dumpsites in Bataan, Pampanga, and Cavite.

Former PNP-National Capital Region Police Office Director and now Deputy Chief for Administration, Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar led the roster of the awardees, alongside former Regional Police Office Central Luzon Director Maj. Gen. Rhodel Sermonia, who is now Directorate for Police Community Relations.

NBI-EnCD chief Czar Eric Nuqui, Brig. Gen. John Mitchell Jamili of PNP-Maritime Group, Col. Raynold Rosero of Regional Maritime Unit-NCR, Maj. Rommel Sobrido of Northern NCR Maritime Police Station, and Cpt. Randy Ludovice of RMU-NCR Intelligence and Investigation Branch were also given recognition.

Also recognized were Maersk Philippines head of delivery Cherryl Ann Dela Vega and EcoWaste Coalition, represented by board secretary Ramon San Pascual, for their support to DENR initiatives.

"We thank them for their relentless effort to help us in enforcing environmental laws, specifically RA 9003," said Cimatu, who is also the chair of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).

Cimatu said the DENR has been aggressive in its campaign on solid waste management and in the implementation of the provisions of RA 9003.

These include the closure of open dumpsites, establishment of materials recovery facilities (MRF), and provision of assistance to local government units (LGU) for the development of their 10-year solid waste management plans.

"Our action against open dumpsites has been relentless," Cimatu said.

He emphasized that, the DENR, through Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and LGU Concerns Benny D. Antiporda and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), has shut down 38 open dumpsites in one day, just ahead of the celebration of the 20th year of RA 9003.

Cimatu, however, directed Antiporda as the NSWMC's Alternate Chair, and the EMB to shut down the remaining open dumpsites in the country in two months.

"This is my directive to them (EMB) and to you Benny, all open dumpsites must be closed by end of March this year," Cimatu stressed.

The DENR chief also committed that the department will work hand-in-hand with the LGUs to increase the number of sanitary landfills (SLF) in the country and to review the implementing rules and regulations of RA 9003 to explore the establishment of bigger SLFs.

He also mentioned that the Commission is coming up with the list of non-environmentally acceptable products and packaging (NEAP) amidst the resistance from the plastic industry.

"We will make sure that NEAP will not be left behind in the waste management of our country," Cimatu said. ###