The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) celebrated the National Volunteer Month (NVM) on Tuesday, Dec. 7 by giving tribute to some 168 individuals and organizations in the private and public sectors for their volunteerism efforts and support for DENR’s programs and advocacies.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said the NVM celebration this year “takes a more meaningful significance for us at the DENR,” citing that the notable increase in the number of volunteer groups and individuals “affirms the soundness of this Administration’s brand of environmental governance.”

“Persistency and altruism, this is the true face of volunteerism or the bayanihan spirit which has blossomed in the time of Covid-19,” Cimatu said, noting that the pandemic period “has served as an impetus to spur more and more individuals and groups take direct action on environmental citizenship through volunteerism.”

All 168 of the honorees were awarded with Certificates of Recognition during the hybrid program held at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City with the theme “Volunteer Now: Spark Hope, Create Solutions, and Respond to Pandemic Challenges.

Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda highlighted the significance of the volunteers in heightening environmental stewardship amidst the pandemic.

“We are grateful to our volunteers for their continued support to the programs and projects of the DENR. Truly you are deserving of this recognition for advocating environmental stewardship most especially during this time of pandemic,” Antiporda said.

Meanwhile, DENR Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service Director Hiro Masuda led the presentation of the awards with Philippine National Volunteer Service Coordinating Agency Executive Director Donald James Gawe, who cited DENR’s strong recognition of volunteerism for its critical role in resilience “in the context of changing nature and frequency of natural disaster.”

“Without our volunteers, I don’t think we can achieve our organizational outcome,” Gawe said, as he expressed optimism that “DENR can become one of the model agencies (which sees) volunteerism as a potent development strategy.”

For his part, Masuda noted that “volunteering has made an impact” to the centrality of environment to public health.

“As volunteers, it is saddening to see people pass on, because when it comes to what we are doing, health and the environment are always connected,” Masuda said.

This year’s NVM recognition awardees included the Department of Health, Lions Clubs International (LCI) Multiple District 301 Philippines, LCI District 301-A2, National Council on Disability Affairs, Philippine Coast Guard-Action Center, PCG-Cavite, Philippine National Police-Drug Enforcement Group-Community Affairs Section, and the Career Executive Service Board.

Also recognized were the Government Service Insurance System, Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Education-Schools Division Office Quezon City, Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP)-National Office, BSP-Manila Council, The Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council, Lung Center of the Philippines, and the National Book Development Board.

From the academe were the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Marikina Polytechnic College, Universidad de Manila, University of Santo Tomas-College of Sciences, Quezon City Science High School. Twenty-seven public school teachers in Quezon City who have coordinated with DENR on their tree planting and other environmental activities were also acknowledged.

Honorees from civic groups and non-government organizations included Noble Queen of the Universe Ltd. Inc; Association of Science and Mathematics Educators of Philippine Private Schools; Society of Filipino Foresters Inc.; Sonshine Phils. Movement; Earth Day Network Phils. Inc.; National Bicycle Organization; Rotary International Districts 3780 and 3830; the Rotary Clubs of Makati-Rockwell, San Francisco Del Monte and Diliman Heights; Inner Wheel Clubs of the Phils. District 378; JuanSmile Philippines; Integrated Blind of the Philippines; and UP Beta Sigma Fraternity.

From the business and industry sector, the following were awarded: FAST Cargo Logistics Corp., Kanlaon Security Agency Inc., Philippine Manila Standard Publishing Inc., Royale Cold Storage Inc. Taytay and North, Thaison Builder and Developer, Toyota Motor Dealers of Bicutan-Parañaque and Makati, David M. Consunji Inc., Meralco Industrial Engineering Services Corporation, Personal Collection Direct Selling Inc., and the Yuchengco Group of Companies.

Some 21 Environment and Natural Resources vloggers were likewise recognized for their efforts which DENR cited as critical to foster long-term positive change in attitudes and mindsets among stakeholders within the Manila Bay region and shore up the Department’s information, education and communication efforts for its Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program.

Several local government units, including barangays, were also recognized for their partnership with the DENR in their environmental initiatives.

Last year, some 49 honorees were recognized in the awarding rites which the DENR holds annually pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 55, Series of 1998, declaring the month of December of every year as National Volunteer Month to promote volunteerism as a tool for development in both the government and the private sectors. ###