Press Releases

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has designated the Sinocalan-Dagupan River System (SDRS) in Pangasinan province as another Water Quality Management Area (WQMA) in line with the government efforts to speed up the rehabilitation of important rivers in the country facing threat from development activities.

In DENR Administrative Order 2011-14, dated November 23, 2011, Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje also called for the creation of a multi-sectoral governing board that will oversee the management of the water quality of SDRS where contamination from development activities was found to be beyond acceptable levels based on the results of a four-month long monitoring activity conducted in 19 sampling stations between January to April this year.

“The SDRS case amplifies our call to urgently act on the dying conditions of the country’s important water bodies,” Paje said, stressing that designating WQMAs will enable concerned officials both in the national and local levels to take focused interventions on specific water quality issues relevant to a particular locality.

The WQMA governing board is composed of mayors and governors of concerned LGUs, and representatives of relevant national government agencies, duly registered non-government organizations, water utility sector, and the business sector. The DENR representative chairs the governing board.

“We are working towards designating more river systems as water quality management areas. But more importantly, we are currently working closely with key stakeholders in these areas to mobilize their governing boards,” Paje said.

He also expressed gratitude to members of the Pangasinan Provincial Council headed by Pangasinan Vice Governor Jose Ferdinand Calimlim, Jr., who called on the DENR through a provincial resolution issued last August, to designate the Sinocalan-Dagupan River System as a WQMA.

Republic Act No. 9275, also known as the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, mandates the DENR, in coordination with National Water Resources Board (NWRB), to designate certain areas as WQMAs using appropriate physiographic units such as watershed, river basins, or water resources regions to effectively enforce its provisions and improve the water quality of water bodies.

The law also seeks to provide a decentralized management system for water quality protection and improvement of rivers that have similar hydrological, hydro geological, meteorological, or geographic conditions which affect the physical, chemical, biological and bacteriological reactions and diffusion of pollutants in the water bodies, or otherwise share common interest or face similar development programs, prospects or problems.

Under the WQMA, the DENR and the stakeholders will address the water quality problems, sources of pollution, and the beneficial use of the receiving water body. They will also determine what control measures to institute to effectively achieve water quality objectives or improvements.

Each WQMA has a governing board which serves as its planning, monitoring, and coordinating body. The governing board likewise reviews the WQMA action plan prepared by the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

The SDRS designation brings to seven the number of WQMAs existing in the country, which includes the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system and areas within Laguna Lake Development Authority’s jurisdiction in Luzon; the Tigum-Aganan watershed and the Iloilo-Batiano river system in the Visayas; and the Silway River and the Sarangani Bay in Mindanao.

The SDRS, whose development activities are predominantly for aquaculture, agriculture and domestic purposes - snakes through the municipalities of Binalonan, Sta. Barbara, Calasiao, Mangaldan, Malasiqui and Binmaley and the cities of Urdaneta, San Carlos and Dagupan before eventually draining into the Lingayen Gulf.

  

 

A prime research center for the country’s coastal and marine resources will soon rise in idyllic Snake Island in Palawan.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2011-12 establishing Snake Island as site of the D ENR National Coastal and Marine Center for Research (NCMCR).

“The establishment of a research center is a step towards a more effective and efficient conservation of our country’s vast biodiversity. We need to implement clear interventions in protecting and rehabilitating our coastal and marine ecosystems as they provide food and livelihood to millions of Filipinos,” Paje said.

Paje also said the Snake Island makes for an ideal and strategic site for the country’s coastal and marine research program because it represents the megadiversity of the Philippines. “Being located in Palawan, which as we all know, is the country’s last ecological frontier, Snake Island is definitely a good choice to put up our research center,” Paje added.

Under the DAO, the NCMCR in Snake Island would serve as a field station for applied research for marine and coastal ecosystems, ecotourism and biodiversity. It would also house a laboratory for researchers to study interventions for coral reefs, seagrass and mangroves.

The NCMCR would further serve as a model for sustainable coastal and marine management and showcase the proper implementation of ecotourism principles.

Based on Paje’s directive, no application for foreshore lease agreements inconsistent with the objectives and functions of the NCMCR will be entertained by the DENR.

Commercial and industrial businesses other than those related to agriculture will not also be allowed on the island, according to Paje.

Executive Director Jacob Meimban of the DENR’s Coastal and Marine Management Office said his office would coordinate with other marine experts, institutions and agencies such as the DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau, the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, the University of the Philippines’ Marine Science Institute, and Silliman University in designing the NCMCR, particularly its laboratory facilities.

Snake Island is a 7.5-hectare snake-shaped island within Honda Bay in Puerto Princesa City , Palawan . Its only structures are a DENR-manned monitoring station, as well as cottages run by the Honda Bay Boat Owners Association, which provide temporary shelter for tourists.

 

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has padlocked on Friday (Nov. 25) six mineral processing plants operating with expired permits issued by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) of Camarines Norte.

Served with cease and desist orders (CDOs) by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the DENR in Region 5 include P&F Mineral Experts Corp., Green Gold, Triple A and Talla, all in Paracale town; and Escober and Romeo Diaz mineral processing plants located in the municipality of Jose Panganiban.

All six processing plants were subject of public complaint, particularly from fisherfolks allied with “Samahang Mangingisda ng Paracale” for polluting Paracale’s fishing grounds, including two major rivers, Malaguit and Bato-Balani in Jose Panganiban.

In a report to DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, MGB-5 Regional Director Luis B. Loyola said that the issuance of CDOs came following the conduct of a joint investigation team by MGB and the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) which found the mineral processing plants, except Green Gold, to be in active operation despite expired permits from the local mining regulatory board.

However for Green Gold, Loyola said the company was closed down due to defective wastewater treatment facility.

Paje said that based on the department’s rules and regulations, any company that generates wastewater should secure a wastewater discharge permit from the EMB. He, however, clarified that once a mining permit of a mining project expires, its wastewater discharge permit also expires with it.

“I would like reiterate our policy in DENR that any company that discharges wastewater with an expired EMB permit or no permit at all will be held liable for violating Republic Act No. 9275, otherwise known as the Clean Water Act,” Paje explained.

Under the People’s Mining Act of 1991, the PMRB is in charge of issuing licenses for the operation of custom mill and other processing plants subject to the pollution control and safety standards.

The board is chaired by the MGB regional director, vice-chaired by the provincial governor, with representatives from the small-scale and large-scale mining industries and local non-government organizations (NGO) as members.

  

 

The government’s law enforcement groups formed to run after illegal loggers and polluters are taking an unlikely tact to beef up their arsenal - a concert chorale.

The Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (AILTF) and the Environmental Law Enforcement Task Force (ELETF) are holding a free concert today (November 28) at the central office Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City, dubbed “Harana sa Kalikasan 2011.”

The concert will feature the Ramon Magsaysay High School Chorale (RMHSC) which was adjudged as the best chorale group by the Aliw Awards Foundation in 2006 and 2007, and won the championship in the prestigious National Competition for Young Artists (NAMCYA) in 2005. RMHSC likewise bagged two silver medals in the 2008 Hongkong International Youth and Children’s Hospital Choir Festival.

RMHSC's latest accolade was winning the top prize in the “Musikahan sa Tagum National Chorale Competition” last February and was also declared as a grand prize winner of various chorale competitions organized by the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, Samsung Phil., Manila Broadcasting Company and the Department of Tourism.

According to AILTF and ELTEF head Major General Renato Miranda (ret.), the holding of the concert “forms part of his organization’s recognition of the potent force of the arts and culture” to shore up public appreciation and participation in efforts to promote environmental activism in the country.

AILTF’s creation was the result of the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 23 by President Benigno S. Aquino III last February 1, 2011, tasking the DENR as chair, to give teeth to the government’s enforcement of the EO’s imposition of log ban in natural and residual forests throughout the country.

ELETF, on the other hand, was created last year under DENR Memorandum Circular 2010-15 issued by Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje. AILTF and ELTEF are presently holding office at the DENR Central Office in Visayas Avenue, Quezon City with Miranda as executive director and head, respectively.

  

 

The “Pera sa Kweba” text raffle promo contest for the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) has a housewife from Malolos City, Bulacan as its first millionaire, it was announced by Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, who also sits as the national campaign manager for the PPUR in the Search for the New Seven Wonders of Nature.

At the same time, Paje also announced that the “Pera sa Kweba” text promo for PPUR has been extended up to December 30, 2011. At stake in the grand draw, according to him, is a P25 million top prize. He urged the public to keep on texting. “Who knows you might be the next lucky winner like Marites Balagtas, our first millionaire in this campaign,” Paje stressed.

Lucky texter, Marites Balagtas, 38, narrated that when she received the text message informing her that she had won, she initially thought that the text message was part of a scam. Watching her favorite primetime show, however, erased all doubts.

“Naloko na po ako dati ng P300 sa isang scam kaya di po ako naniwala sa text (message) na natanggap ko nun. Pero noong nanood po ako ng Will Time, Big Time kinagabihan, narinig kong ina-announce ni Willie (Revillame, host of the show) ang pangalan ko at tinatawagan ako sa cell phone ko. Hindi nga po kami nun masyadong magkaintindihan sa telepono. Hindi po talaga ako agad makapaniwala,” Balagtas narrated.

The windfall could not have come at a better time. Her family had been one of the victims of typhoon Pedring which flooded large parts of Bulacan, including Malolos City, in late September. Her husband, a pedicab driver, had been sick for several days already. And, low on funds, she was forced to cut short her eldest son’s confinement in a hospital where he was then being treated for dengue fever.

Marites narrated that she joined the contest to try her luck. She had sent eight text messages over different dates costing her P20, for a total of 16 entries, since each SMS sent for the promo before November 10, 2011 was worth two raffle entries. She recalled that it was before November 6, when she received the text message and the televised call.

Asked how she would spend the money, Maritess, a mother of three, said she would invest it in her children’s education. She also wanted a better, though small and simple, house for her family. She was also thinking of giving some of her siblings a little “balato” as capital for their livelihood activities.

Marites was accompanied by two of her kids, her brother and his own kids, when she met with members of the Task Force Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR) at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City.

There she received a facsimile of her winning check from Puerto Princesa City Mayor Edward Hagedorn and Interior and Local Government Undersecretary Austere Panadero as the other members of the task force watched and congratulated her.

As of November 17, the “Pera sa Kweba” text raffle promo has given away P10,000 each to 45 daily winners; P100,000 to each of three bi-weekly winners; P250,000 each to two monthly winners; and one P1-million prize. Additionally, 20 winners have each won P50,000 as drawn on the show Will Time, Big Time.

The contest was initiated by the private sector to promote the PPUR as an eco-tourism site, and to educate the public on why it deserved to be a finalist in the New Seven Wonders of Nature (N7WN) contest.

Paje said the extension of the “Pera sa Kuweba” promo up to December 30, 2011 was to give the people more chances of winning.

Paje also extended his gratitude to all who voted for the PPUR, either through text or the internet, saying the “collective effort would go a long way not only in promoting the PPUR as an eco-tourism destination for both the domestic and foreign tourists but also in encouraging the public to go into environmental protection.”

The PPUR has landed in the provisional list of New 7 Wonders of Nature as announced recently by the organizers of the competition.

To join the “Pera sa Kweba” promo, text the word PPUR and send to 2861 for all local networks. Each SMS costs P2.50, and entitles the texter one raffle entry. Winning mobile numbers are electronically drawn under the supervision of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The on-going promo is slated to give away more than P30 million worth of cash prizes, with the grand prize of P25 million to be given away to one lucky winner on the final draw scheduled on December 30, 2011. Lucky texters can win cash prizes ranging from P10,000 to as much as P1 million.