Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the milestones and achievements made by the agency will be a significant part of the Duterte administration's legacy on the conservation and protection of the environment.

In the DENR's Expanded Executive Committee Conference held last January 18, Cimatu praised the employees for rising to the challenge and meeting the expectations of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Cimatu said that being tasked by President Duterte to head three important inter-agency bodies—the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force, Manila Bay Task Force, and Task Force Build Back Better (TFBBB)—to facilitate the government’s restoration and rehabilitation efforts through whole-of-government and society approach, "bespeaks of his high regard for our competence and capabilities."

"Indeed, I look forward to the pleasure of submitting to the Supreme Court at the end of my term a report on our compliance with the Writ of Continuing Mandamus for the cleanup and restoration of the water quality of Manila Bay," he said, noting that it is only during the Duterte administration that the concerned agencies have substantial compliance with the writ issued in December 2008.

Cimatu led the DENR conference via onsite and online platforms aimed at shaping the direction of the environment and natural resource sector for 2022.

"We managed to accomplish so much in so short a time despite the distractions caused by the pandemic and natural disasters. I believe we could have accomplished more, and we will certainly do so," Cimatu said, as he called on the DENR workforce to "push harder in the months ahead."

The DENR chief also noted that the rehabilitation efforts in Boracay Island are expected to be completed by mid-2022 which included the restoration of wetlands, clearing of 25+5 easement, and upgrading of the island’s drainage and sewerage system.

Moreover, Cimatu underscored the DENR’s performance as the head of the TFBBB, which was created in November 2020, to strengthen rehabilitation and recovery efforts in the Marikina River, Cagayan River, and Bicol River after being adversely affected by two destructive typhoons.

"We have responded not only to disaster and rehabilitation and recovery work but have also put in place measures to prevent or mitigate a repeat of those disasters in these three priority areas," Cimatu said.

He added that TFBBB is now working on a template to guide government agencies on what to do in the aftermath of every typhoon.

"We already started studying the cases of Siargao Island, Surigao, Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, Negros, and Palawan, all devastated by typhoon Odette," Cimatu said.

Cimatu likewise cited the closure of some 335 illegally operating dumpsites nationwide in line with the enforcement of the two-decade old Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“Another accomplishment worth noting is the completion of the closure of all the 335 illegally operating dumpsites,” Cimatu said, stressing that running after illegal dumpsites was a feat “past administrations failed to do for over one and a half decades despite the command of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.”

"Let us work and push harder as we keep score of our successes so that at the end of this administration‘s term, we shall be able to report our milestones and legacies that will forever be etched in the environment and natural resources sector," he said. ###