Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu welcomed the approval of his agency’s P25.29 billion proposed budget for 2022 after two and a half hours of plenary deliberation at the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

"I am very much grateful for all the support extended to us by our lawmakers for the approval of our budget. I am optimistic that the DENR would get the same extent of support from the senators just like their counterparts in the House when they meet at the bicameral conference committee," Cimatu said.

The DENR chief reiterated that the agency's proposed budget for 2022 will help sustain the country’s gains and achieve green growth recovery even in the coming years.

The DENR's 2022 budget, which is 7 percent higher than the agency’s 2021 approved budget of P23.59 billion, is sponsored by Aklan Rep. Teodorico Haresco.

In a virtual plenary session, Buhay Partylist Rep. Jose Atienza Jr. interpellated the budget measure along with four other Makabayan solons, namely, representatives Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna), Ferdinand Gaite (Bayan Muna), France Castro (ACT-Teachers Partylist), and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela Partylist).

Cimatu noted that the DENR has been receiving an average amount of P21.11 billion or 0.79 percent of the national budget for the past 10 years.

"It’s way far from what the agency needs to fully realize its mandate but we will soldier on to give vital support to the government’s sustainable development programs," Cimatu pointed out.

The Enhanced National Greening Program takes the largest share of the P9.7-billion budget for DENR’s 10 priority programs with an allocation of P3.68 billion, followed by Enhanced Biodiversity Conservation (P1.01 billion), and Manila Bay Rehabilitation (P1.67 billion).

The Solid Waste Management Program will receive P1.07 billion, Intensified Forest Protection and Anti-Illegal logging will get P696.41 million, followed by Improved Land Administration and Management with P415.34 million, and GeoHazard, Groundwater Assessment and Responsible Mining with P407.65 million.

Likewise, the Scaling Up of Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Programs will get P271.8 million while Clean Water and Clean Air will be given P315.49 million and P143 million, respectively.

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 stressed.

Under the budget, priority support will be given to 24 climate-vulnerable provinces under the Risk Resiliency Program according to the Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation, and Disaster Risk Reduction (CCAM-DRR) Roadmap.

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.

These provinces have been identified based on high poverty incidence, high risks to climate hazards, situated in critical watersheds, and with existing convergence sites.

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.

By expense class, 38.43 percent or P9.72 billion of the 2022 proposed budget will be allocated for personnel services, P9.91 billion (39.21 percent) for maintenance and other operating expenses, and P5.65 billion (22.36 percent) for capital outlay. ###