Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu rallied the youth and the people of Mindanao to help the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in environmental protection at the Mindanao launch of ‘Tayo ang Kalikasan,’ the DENR-led citizens’ movement for environmental stewardship and sustainable development.

Speaking in General Santos City, near Sarangani Bay, Cimatu said that ordinary citizens can help protect the environment through humble means, like proper solid waste management.

“We can prevent more plastic from reaching the seas and mountains by segregating our waste properly, reducing usage of plastic, relying on reusable containers, and practicing recycling,” Cimatu said.

Speaking to students at the launch, Cimatu said: “bilang mga kabataan, siguraduhin nating huwag tayong magkalat sa kung saan-saan. Clean as you go. At pag may mga kaibigan kayo na nakitang nagkakalat, sabihan ninyo sila na maging responsable sa pagtatapon ng basura.”

Cimatu emphasized that environmental protection is the duty of each and every Filipino, as part of their responsibility as stewards of the country’s natural resources.

“This is our Sarangani Bay, our Mount Apo, our Siargao. These are our farmlands, forests, cities, communities, rivers, lakes, and seas,” Cimatu said.

“This is our Mindanao, our land of promise. No one else but us will care for our natural resources. We should take the lead in protecting and using our natural resources responsibly. Tayo ang kumilos para protektahan ito,” he added.

Cimatu, moreover, recognized the efforts of DENR SOCCSKARGEN (Region XII) in managing the natural resources of the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape.

“It is good that the beaches here in Sarangani are still in good condition. I hope you will not let environmental degradation set in, like what happened in Boracay,” he said.

Tayo ang Kalikasan is the DENR’s advocacy and social mobilization task force aiming to spur Filipinos to do their part in environmental protection. Tayo ang Kalikasan also aims to document the best practices of individuals, communities, local governments, and organizations on responsible land use, environmental protection, solid waste management, and ecotourism, among others.

During the launch, a number of local governments and organizations involved in these initiatives had set up exhibits showcasing their products -- from organic tablea chocolate by a group of community-based forest management agreement holders, to artworks made of recycled plastic -- as well as ecotourism services. ###