To reduce the volume of pollution usually generated over the holidays, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has proposed the strict regulation of fireworks during the holidays through the designation of areas where Filipinos can set off and enjoy fireworks and other pyrotechnic displays.
“We are looking for ways that will allow Filipinos to enjoy Christmas and New Year without the pollution that usually comes with it,” he said, adding that the indiscriminate setting off of fireworks is “like putting pollution in the hands of society.”
Paje said that he would bring up his proposal with Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo, explaining that setting up such areas, whether within a municipality or even among a cluster of barangays, would drastically reduce the amount of air pollutants from pyrotechnics, such as dust, sulfur and charcoal which complicate respiratory problems.
These pollutants lead to the formation of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide. They also get trapped in smog that blankets the air afterwards, aggravated by the cold weather and rain expected from the occurrence of La Niña.
Paje noted that the pollution would also set back the country’s gains in reducing the air pollution level especially in Metro Manila, where the level of total suspended particulates (TSPs) declined during the first three quarters of the year. Latest report indicated a decrease to 120 ug/ncm in the 3rd quarter of 2011, from 130 ug/ncm during the same period last year.
The DENR secretary added that common fireworks areas would also mean areas where people could safely enjoy fireworks and make cleaning up afterwards an easier task, translating to less fires, injuries and deaths.
Aside from designating common areas for fireworks, the DENR chief reminded Filipinos to refrain from burning tires, which produces carbon monoxide and other poisonous metals such as zinc which is harmful when inhaled.
He then challenged Filipinos to “tap their creativity and ingenuity in celebrating the holidays with less harm to health, lives and environment.”
DENR to tap biotechnology to solve environmental woes
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today said that biotechnology is key to addressing critical environmental issues facing the country, particularly in overcoming challenges in global warming like droughts, food security and mitigation of impacts from natural disasters.
Paje made the remark as he calls on the public, particularly the teachers and students, to actively participate in the celebration of the 7th National Biotechnology Week slated on Nov. 21-26, 2011 at the Social Hall of the DENR in Visayas Ave., Diliman, Quezon City.
Expected to grace the event includes Senator Edgardo Angara, senate committee chair on science and technology, who will give the keynote speech, and key officials of the various agency-members of the National Biotechnology Committee, namely, Department of Health, which serves as co-chair for this year’s celebration; Department of Agriculture; Department of Science and Technology; Department of Interior and Local Government; Department of Trade and Industry; Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education.
This year’s celebration is anchored on the theme: “Bioteknolohiya para sa Kalikasan, Kalusugan, Kagandahan, Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran, OK ang 5K sa Biotech: Suportahan at Tangkilikin Natin!”
Paje said that there is an immense potential of biotechnology in protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment. “The potential benefits of biotechnology in environmental management could not be overemphasized,” Paje said, stressing that biotechnology can greatly help improve the water quality of rivers and other waterways as well as enhance the reforestation of the country’s denuded forestlands.
Paje noted that while the benefits of the safe use of biotechnology in other sectors, particularly in agriculture and medicine, have been increasingly recognized by the government, he also acknowledged the many issues confronting biotechnology, particularly the alleged impact of genetically-modified organisms or GMOs on the people’s health, animals and the environment.
Paje stressed that based on Executive Order 514 which established the National Biosafety Framework and Strengthening the National Committee on Biosafety of the Philippines, the DENR is mandated to ensure that environmental assessments are carried out and impacts identified in the release of genetically-modified organisms or GMOs in the field.
“The DENR will continue to support the implementation of EO 514 as it is compliant to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety under the Convention on Biological Diversity that addresses safe transfer, handling and use of GMOs,” Paje said.
He also said that the DENR will be taking the lead in evaluating and monitoring GMOs intended for bioremediation and improvement of forest and wildlife genetic resources.
Bioremediation refers to the use of microorganisms, fungi, green plants or their enzymes to return the natural environment altered by contaminants to its original condition.
DENR, partners name Philippines’ most eco-friendly schools
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), together with the Department of Education (DepEd) and Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Smart Communications, has named nine schools as the national champions of the 2011 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools.
Handing out the awards in simple ceremonies held Wednesday (Nov. 16) at the SM City North EDSA were DENR Assistant Secretary for Management and Finance Corazon Davis, representing DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje; Smart’s Community Partnerships senior manager Darwin Flores; DepEd’s Nutrition Division head Dr. Juan Araojo Jr.; and CHED Director William Malitao.
In a speech read by Davis, Paje described as “overwhelming” the schools’ response to the call for entries to the competition. “The contest was launched so that schools will participate more actively in environmental programs. We hope that in doing so, the students will also encourage others to adopt sustainable practices,” Paje said.
The nine national champions were chosen from 45 regional champions representing the elementary, high school and college levels. For the elementary level, Iliranan Elementary School of San Carlos City in Negros Occidental; Kibawe Central School in Kibawe, Bukidnon; and San Mariano Elementary School in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro were proclaimed as first, second and third placers, respectively.
Declared high school level champions were the Camarines Sur National High School in Naga City (1st); University of San Jose Recoletos – High School in Cebu City (2nd); and Daniel R. Aquinaldo National High School in Davao City (3rd).
Meanwhile, De La Salle University – Dasmariñas in Cavite; Palawan State University in Puerto Princesa City; and Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City were awarded the first, second and third places for the college level.
The national champions each received plaques of recognition and cash prizes of P50,000 for first place, P40,000 for second place, and P30,000 for third place. The awarding coincided with the celebration of November as National Environmental Awareness Month as provided under Republic Act No. 9512, also known as the National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008.
Now on its second run, the nationwide competition aims to recognize educational institutions from elementary to college levels with the best sustainable and environment-friendly programs and activities. It is the Philippines’ initative in support to the ASEAN Environmental Education Action Plan (2008-2012), and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (2005-2014).
Declared regional champions for the elementary school level were: Commonwealth Elementary School, Quezon City; Lawig Elementary School, Ifugao Province; Cal-laguip Elementary School, Caoayan, Ilocos Sur; Peñablanca East Central School, Peñablanca, Cagayan; Matain Elementary School, Subic, Zambales; San Isidro Elementary School, Batangas City; San Mariano Elementary School in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro; Iliranan Elementary School, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; Simeon Ayuda Elementary School, Liloan, Cebu; Lomonon Elementary School, Palompon, Leyte; Kibawe Central School, Bukidnon; Luna Elementary School, Kapalong, Davao Del Norte; Panay Elementary School, Sto. Niño, South Cotabato; and Duangan Elementary School, Esperanza, Agusan Del Sur.
Regional champions for the high school level were: Jose P. Laurel Sr. High School, Project 4, Quezon City; Baguio City National High School, Governor Pack Road, Baguio City; Sinait National High School, Ilocos Sur; San Mateo General Comprehensive High School, Isabela; Digdig High School, Carranglan, Nueva Ecija; Pedro Guevara Memorial National High School, Sta. Cruz, Laguna; President Diosdado Macapagal Memorial National High School, Gloria, Oriental Mindoro; Camarines Sur National High School, Naga City; Julio Ledesma National High School, San Carlos City, Negros Occidental; University of San Jose-Recoletos High School, Cebu City; Don Geronimo B. Zaldivar Memorial School of Fisheries, Albuera, Leyte; Siayan National High School, Zamboanga Del Norte; Balo-i National High School, Lanao Del Norte; Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School, Matina, Davao City; Tulunan National High School, North Cotabato; and Esperanza National High School, Agusan Del Sur.
For the college level, the schools that made it to the national level were: Ateneo De Manila University, Quezon City; University of the Cordilleras, Governor Pack Road, Baguio City; Mariano Marcos State University, Batac, Ilocos Norte; St. Paul University Philippines, Tuguegarao City, Cagayan; De La Salle University - Dasmariñas, Cavite; Palawan State University, in Puerto Princesa City; Catanduanes State Colleges, Virac, Catanduanes; Central Philippine University, Jaro, Iloilo City; St. Paul University Dumaguete, Negros Oriental; University of Eastern Philippines, Catarman, Northern Samar; Universidad De Zamboanga, Tetuan, Zamboanga City; Capitol University, Cagayan De Oro City; Davao Doctors College, Davao City; Notre Dame of Marbel University, Koronadal City, South Cotabato; and Caraga State University, Butuan City.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the De La Salle University (DLSU) jointly launched today (Tuesday) a new air quality monitoring station to collect real time air quality data along major thoroughfares of south Manila.
Leading the launching held at the DLSU campus along Taft Avenue in Manila were Environmental Management Bureau Dir. Juan Miguel Cuna, representing DENR Sec. Ramon J. P. Paje, and DLSU’s President and Chancellor Bro. Narciso Erquiza Jr., FSC. The activity is part of the highlights of this year’s celebration of November as National Clean Air Month.
In a speech read by Cuna, Paje lauded the university’s administration in partnering with the DENR in the effort to provide for improved air quality for the people in the metropolis. “We are glad of the support extended to us by one of the country’s leading universities known for its expertise in technology that promotes sustainable environmental development and clean energy,” he said.
Paje explained that the DLSU air quality station was the third to be installed this year to strengthen monitoring of air pollutants in the metropolis. The first two air quality monitoring equipment have been installed in Valenzuela City and in Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City while the fourth equipment will be installed at the compound of the Department of Public Works and Highways along EDSA, also in Quezon City, within the year.
According to Paje, the newly installed equipment is capable of measuring criteria pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene and xylene, as well as meteorological data, all in real time.
He added that in line with the DENR’s Clean Air program, the data collected would be used for air quality management, traffic and land-use purposes, determining exposure and advancing studies on health, vegetation or building materials. “With more pollutants being monitored in real time, we can be assured of more effective policies in curbing air pollution,” he said.
Paje stressed the need for more interventions to achieve the healthy World Health Organization standard of 90 µg/Ncm. These include enhancement of anti-smoke belching operations in Metro Manila; adoption of more stringent emission standards for all types of motor vehicles; and the use of closed-circuit television cameras for a stricter monitoring of private emission testing and motor vehicle inspection centers.
Meanwhile, EMB Dir. Cuna said that all four air quality monitoring stations will be operated by the EMB. He also said that his agency regularly monitors air pollution by measuring the amount of dust and other pollutant particles in the air, known as total suspended particulates or TSPs. The level of TSP in Meetro Manila reportedly dropped from 166 micrograms per normal cubic meter (µg/Ncm) during the second quarter of 2010 to 120 µg/Ncm for the same period in 2011, and further went down to an average of 1116 µg/Ncm for the third quarter of this year.
DENR to host celebration of National Biotechnology Week 2011
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is hosting this year’s celebration of the National Biotechnology Week (NBW) at its head office in Quezon City from November 21-26, 2011.
DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the week-long celebration is pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 1414 issued in 2007 to promote the safe and responsible use of modern biotechnology and its products to achieve food security, equitable access to health service, sustainable and safe environment and industry development.
Anchored on the theme: "Bioteknolohiya para sa Kalikasan, Kalusugan, Kagandahan, Kabuhayan at Kaunlaran. Ok ang 5K sa Biotech: Suportahan at Tangkilikin Natin!” Paje said the event will put together some of the country’s best minds and undertakings in biotechnology with the end in view of making biotechnology available and understandable to the general public.
“The whole event will provide an opportunity for the public to learn first-hand that biotechnology can be as much a part of the average Filipino’s daily life as it is in medical care, crop production and businesses,” Paje said.
He also said that biotechnology can greatly help reduce stresses on the country’s natural environment as it can also harness nature to make the environmental safer, stronger and more productive.
“Already, biotechnologists have identified organisms that feed on toxic algae, chlorinated solvents, and heavy metals, making them valuable for pollution control,” Paje said.
The first day of the 6-day celebration (Monday, Nov. 21) will be highlighted by the following activities: The DENR chief will give the opening remarks, to be followed by the keynote speech of guest speaker, Senator Edgardo Angara, chairman of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology.
Also expected to grace the occasion are heads of other member-agencies of NBW Committee to include the Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and the Department of Health (DOH). Together, the agency heads will join DENR Secretary Paje in officially declaring the opening of the 2011 NBW Week Celebration, as well as in opening the NBW Photo Exhibit to the public.
The afternoon of Nov. 21 is slated for the conduct of the poster presentation contest to be handled by the DA.
Activities lined up for Nov. 22 (Tuesday) include scientific seminars and forums highlighting biotechnology research, development and applications on topics such as “Tools and Techniques in Genomics Research,” “Checking Water Quality using Microarray Technology,” “Screening Genetic Defects in Livestock using Molecular Method,” “Pharma from the Seas: Anti-pain, Anti-cancer Substances,” “Getting Rid of Heavy Metals,” Bio-ozonation for Recycling Water and Combating Harmful Algal Blooms.
On Nov. 23 (Wednesday), the DOH is expected to lead in the day’s public forum on Healthcare Biotechnology, Food Safety, Dengue Control and Management, Biolarvicidal Product against Dengue Mosquito, Development of GM Mosquito and Development of Tetravalent Dengue Vaccine.
On Nov. 24 (Thursday), a seminar on golden rice and a scientific forum on biotechnology for communicators will be handled by Biotechnology for Life Media and Advocacy Resource Center, while DA will tackle how to bring innovations from laboratories to market. The presentation of the Jose G. Burgos Awards for Biotech Journalism is also slated on this day to give due recognition to media for their outstanding contribution in pushing the frontiers of scientific inquiry through their writings.
Friday (Nov. 25) will be highlighted by a business forum to be handled by the DTI, to be followed by a scientific forum on environment and natural resources by the DENR. Also set for discussion during the day are topics on phytoremediation for a greener and cleaner environment, the application of biotechnology in solid waste and of bioremediation in polluted rivers. A national biotechnology education conference for teachers shall simultaneously be conducted during the day at the Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority Convention Hall, also located along Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.
The closing and awarding ceremonies will be held at 1 o’clock in the afternoon of Nov. 26 (Saturday). Prior to this, representatives of the eight member-agencies of NBW Committee will conduct a review of Presidential Proclamation No. 1414.