Press Releases

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje urged local government units (LGUs) to take an active role to stop illegal poaching and trade of marine and other wildlife species in their localities.
Paje particularly asked local executives to strictly monitor their 15-kilometer municipal waters, which they have “exclusive authority to enforce environmental laws” even as he committed to extend technical assistance to LGUs under the department’s integrated coastal management program.

Paje made the call Monday during a Senate hearing called by Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, chairman of the Senate committee on environment, on the black corals and other endangered marine species confiscated by the Bureau of Customs (BOC) at Pier 15 in Manila last May 2. These were said to have been gathered from the seas of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao.

Paje said efforts to stop illegal marine poaching and wildlife trade would only be effective if the market is denied the goods. As for the source of such goods, he explained that most corals and seashells need sunlight and can thus be found within the 15-kilometer municipal water zone, which is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the mayors.

“We have already requested the assistance of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) in identifying the participation LGUs,” he said.

He proposed that LGUs apply “social fencing” wherein local community folk themselves would be tapped or deputized in the implementation of environmental laws to protect and conserve the natural resources in their localities.

Paje also said during the hearing that the DENR and the Department of Agriculture (DA) will work together under an existing convergence initiative to help fight marine poaching especially of corals and shells, which he called as “the new muro-ami”. “Muro-ami” is an illegal fishing method done by pounding or crushing corals underwater to scare fishes towards nets, and employs mostly children of local communities for their excellent skin- or free-diving skills.

He proposed that the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9147, also known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, be applied to those accused in the case since coral reefs are considered important habitats for highly diverse marine species. RA 9147 calls for the conservation and protection of wildlife species and their habitats.

He explained that the penalties in RA 9147 are stiffer, compared to those in RA 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998. The former carries a maximum penalty of P1 million and/or up to 12 years imprisonment, while the latter metes a punishment of only P200,000 and/or up to two years of imprisonment.

According to the secretary, the brunt of the law should be applied to its violators because even with a hundred per cent success rate in enforcement, “it will still be considered a hundred per cent failure, because we cannot return to the environment what was already taken [from it].”

Sen. Zubiri directed both the DENR and DA during the hearing to craft a framework to include other stakeholders in the effort to curb marine poaching at source, and to form an “anti-marine resource poaching task force, similar to the anti-illegal logging task force”.

At the same time, the senator proposed the holding of a forum that would bring the issue to the attention of the international community, and thus hopefully prevent a possible market for the illegal trade of marine species.

 

 

 

 

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje rallied last week his field officials to ensure the success of the National Greening Program, saying the program has full support of the President.

“There is no reason to fail considering that President Aquino has amply given all the support this program (NGP) needs to succeed,” Paje told the regional executive directors (REDs), regional technical directors, and the provincial and community environment and natural resources officers (PENROs, CENROs) attending the 2-day National Convention of Field Officers held May 31-June 1, 2011 at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City.

Paje also challenged the field officials “to give their best shot” as their performance in implementing the NGP will be “highly taken into consideration’ in the evaluation of officials for promotions.

“Those who will be performing will be rewarded. Wala pong biro yan,” Paje said, stressing that the field officers will be evaluated fairly based on a purely-merit system “without regard for personal ties or past associations” he has made through over 20 years at the DENR where he started his career as a casual forester.

Paje said the NGP-driven performance-based incentive scheme will first zero in on the PENRO and CENRO positions, with an instruction to DENR Assistant Secretary for Management and Finance Corazon Davis to reserve the vacant PENRO and CENRO posts as rewards for NGP’s top performers especially those that are on an acting capacity.

“If you are a CENRO, you will automatically become a PENRO. Those who are not yet full-pledged CENRO (with temporary appointment), we will make you full-pledged CENROs. Performance lamang, wala nang iba,” Paje stressed.

Of the 168 CENRO plantilla positions, 47 have yet to be filled; while 25 remain vacant in the 73 PENRO plantilla posts.

The incentive scheme forms part of Paje’s overall program to strengthen DENR’s performance-based promotion system to beef up the national leadership’s efforts in professionalizing the Philippine bureaucracy.

But Paje was quick to clarify that the quality of their performance will be determined by the survival of the seedling declared in their performance and not merely on the number of seedling planted.

“Remember, the NGP is a national priority program of President Aquino, and this is not for show but for grow. Gone are the days when tree planting activities were just to set world records or just for photo opportunities,” Paje noted.

At the same time, Paje asked “doubting Thomases” to be forthcoming this early with their hesitation to go all out to meet their targets to allow for management to act appropriately in their particular case.

“We will make sure that everybody performs. Kung sino sa inyo ang tingin ay hindi kayang ipatupad ang programang ito, sabihin na ninyo ngayon,” Paje said.

The performance-based incentive will be based on the field officials’ scorecard in the yearly targets given them and will be validated with the use of state-of-the art technology such as satellite mapping and internet-based technology through NGP’s website at the www.ngp.denr.gov.ph

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje today said the DENR shall lead in the implementation of activities relative to the observance of the National Decade on Biodiversity.

This, after President Benigno S. Aquino III issued Presidential Proclamation No. 178 which declared the years 2011 to 2020 as the National Decade on Biodiversity in the Philippines.

Under the order, Pres. Aquino enjoined all branches and agencies of the government, including government-owned and controlled corporations, local government units, and state universities and colleges to initiate activities to promote biodiversity conservation, in cooperation with the private sector, community organizations and non-government organizations.

At the same time, the President also mandated the DENR to coordinate the Biodiversity Decade’s activities, and to establish a national task force to plan and implement the activities and submit annual reports to the Office of the President.

A copy of Presidential Proclamation (PP) No. 178 was presented by Paje to United Nations Assistant Secretary General and Executive Secretary to the Convention on Biological Diversity Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf during the recent launching of the United Nations (UN) Decade on Biodiversity in Southeast Asia at the Malacañang Palace. The event was witnessed by President Aquino, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Rodrigo Fuentes as well as representatives from media, conservation organizations, the business community, and the diplomatic corps from the ASEAN region.

The Philippine proclamation is consistent with the United Nations’ declaration of 2011-2020 as the Decade on Biodiversity, a response of the UN General Assembly to a recommendation made during the tenth meeting of the Conference of Parties to the CBD in Nagoya, Japan on October last year. It promotes the implementation of the Biodiversity Strategic Plan 2011-2020 to focus on addressing underlying causes of biodiversity loss, including patterns of production and consumption.

Paje said that the proclamation “proves the seriousness of the Philippines in its commitments to the international community, as well as the utmost and unfailing personal support of President Aquino in arresting biodiversity loss through government’s concerted efforts.”

PP No. 178 directs government agencies in all branches to cooperate with community and non-government organizations to initiate activities to promote the Decade on Biodiversity in coordination with the DENR. It also calls for the establishment of a National Task Force to plan and implement the necessary activities, and submit reports regularly to the Office of the President.

In his speech delivered during the launching, President Aquino noted that the ASEAN Region is so rich in biodiversity, providing habitat to more than 18 per cent of all known plant, animal and marine species. Yet, these are threatened by those who “see the environment as nothing more than a means to make an easy and quick profit without regards for the long-term consequences.”

He said that his administration wants a collective will “to make life better, not only for Filipinos, but ultimately, for the citizens of the world… more importantly, for those who will come tomorrow.”

The President cited programs that his administration had initiated to preserve vulnerable species and habitats, saying that the proclamation was a way to “continue down the path of preserving biodiversity.” He recalled how he had “personally urged” neighboring ASEAN countries during the recent 18th ASEAN Summit in Indonesia to continue supporting the operations of the ACB, which the country hosts.

He also cited the DENR’s project launched recently to expand the country’s terrestrial protected areas with nine key biodiversity areas; the issuance of Executive Order No. 23, which calls for a total logging ban in natural and residual forests; and the National Greening Program, which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of land within six years.

Aquino also vowed to continue pursuing biodiversity conservation efforts in the region, such as the Coral Triangle Initiative, the Greater Mekong Program, the Heart of Borneo Initiative, and the ASEAN Heritage Parks.

To spearhead the government’s activities for the National Decade on Biodiversity, the President and Dr. Djoghlaf together unveiled a marker declaring a massive and shady balete tree fronting Malacañang Palace as a “heritage tree” under the DENR’s Heritage Tree Program. The balete or strangler fig tree was determined to be more than a hundred years old, thus standing as a “mute witness” to different events in the country’s history.

The President described the balete tree as a “fitting symbol” to the country’s commitment to the Decade on Biodiversity. “It will constantly remind us of our obligations, both as citizens of this country and stewards of this planet,” he said.

 

Some 33 barangays of Diliman Creek and its tributaries will compete for the best mural painting in time for the national celebration of World Environment Day on June 5 and June as Philippine Environment Month.

According to Environmental Management Bureau Director Juan Miguel Cuna, the activity aims to promote among residents of each barangay on the importance of rehabilitating Diliman Creek and heighten their participation to ensure its tributaries remain free from garbage.

“We have asked each barangay to provide wall space where its residents can easily see the mural painting that their barangay will create. The mural will remind them of their commitment to continue working for the full rehabilitation of Diliman Creek,” Cuna said.

Open to all 33 barangays of Diliman Creek and tributaries, the contest allows only one (1) entry for each barangay. Each barangay team must have a minimum of three (3) members who are bonafide residents of the barangay. A minimum of 3 meters x 5 meters wall space or an area of approximately 15 square meters or more will be provided by the participating barangay. The theme for the contest is “Sama-sama Tayo Tungo sa Malinis na Katubigan at Luntiang Kapaligiran.”

The contest will be conducted from June 1 to June 5, 2011. Judging and awarding ceremonies will be held on June 16, 2011. To award the winners, local officials of the Quezon City government led by Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte are expected to grace the event.

A total of eight (8) winners will be awarded cash prizes of Php 30,000, Php 20,000, and Php 10,000 for the top three spots and 5 consolation prizes of Php 2,000 each. Barangay councils will also receive a portion of the prize money for first, second and third prize winners valued at Php 5,000, Php, 4,000, Php 3,000, respectively.

The competition is an offshoot of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signing for the “Save the Diliman Creek” Program launched last April 19, 2011 during the Earth Day Celebration at SM Megamall.

Among the partners for the said program are the DENR, Quezon City Local Government, the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association and Sagip Ilog Pilipinas Movement. The 33 local officials of barangays traversing the creek served as witnesses to the signing of the agreement and showed their support by initiating orchestrated clean-ups of creeks within their area every fourth Sunday of each month.

The Mural Painting Contest is being organized by the DENR through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), with support from the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), Sagip-Ilog Pilipinas Movement, and Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc.

 

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje expressed humility on President Aquino’s decision to appoint him on a permanent capacity, saying he is even “more challenged” now with his designation as well to head the Cabinet cluster on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

At the same time, Paje called on all officials and employees of the DENR to continue supporting the president’s agenda for “tuwid na daan” by helping the people break from the bondage of poverty through improved programs on environmental protection and natural resources management.
“I am deeply happy and humbled by the President’s decision and I intend to be worthy of the honor of the President’s confidence,” Paje said.

While maintaining that he will continue to serve at the pleasure of the President, Paje vowed to continue initiating administrative and policy reforms in the department.

He emphasized to the DENR employees the importance of fitness in government service. “Performers will be rewarded while the rogue and corrupt officials and employees shall be punished,” Paje said.

The DENR chief also added that erring employees shall not be allowed to tarnish the good name of the institution, “Kailanman ay hindi natin hahayaang sirain ng iilang tiwaling opisyal o empleyado ang pinagtrabahuan natin,” he said.

Paje also welcomed his latest assignments as chairman of the Cabinet cluster for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and as a member of the cluster on human development and poverty reduction. “I am doubly challenged now with the added mandates from the President,” Paje stressed.

President Aquino issued on May 13, Executive Order No. 43 creating five Cabinet clusters, namely: Good Governance and Anti-Corruption; Human Development and Poverty Reduction; Economic Development; Security, Justice and Peace; Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

Under the order, the DENR secretary shall serve as chairman of the cluster on climate change mitigation and adaptation and as a member in the human development and poverty reduction cluster.

The other members of the climate change cluster include the chairmen of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the Metro Manila Development Authority; the secretaries of the Departments of Science and Technology, Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare and Development, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Energy, and National Defense. The Climate Change Commission shall function as the secretariat for the cluster.

“With the inclusion of climate change, the President has effectively reconfigured the entire bureaucracy into global-warming-responsive state apparatus,” he said.

Paje noted the cluster system would have the advantage of ensuring greater coordination of policies, programs and strategies among government agencies resulting in greater complementation of policies within the same cluster and across clusters.

“It will ensure complementation between education policy and health policy; industrial policy and macro-economic policy; social, environmental and economic policy,” Paje added, noting the system will also allow policy makers to anticipate, for, example, impacts of economic policy on employment creation and poverty reduction and environmental management as these policies would be clearly spelled out through a coordinated approach to policy formulation and planning.

Other important green initiatives of President Aquino, said Paje, include Executive Order No. 23, which bans logging in natural forests and the creation of an inter-agency task force against illegal logging, and Executive Order No. 26 declaring the implementation of the National Greening Program as a government priority program. “From ground-breaking presidential fiats like Executive Orders 23 and 26 to his initiatives in rallying our countrymen to celebrate the richness of the country’s natural splendor, the President has amply proven his commitment to the perpetuity of our country’s natural resources,” said Paje, citing the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 43 as “yet another example of the President’s commitment to his green agenda to safeguard and enrich the strength and viability of our nation both for the present and future generations.”

 

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje expressed humility on President Aquino’s decision to appoint him on a permanent capacity, saying he is even “more challenged” now with his designation as well to head the Cabinet cluster on climate change mitigation and adaptation.

At the same time, Paje called on all officials and employees of the DENR to continue supporting the president’s agenda for “tuwid na daan” by helping the people break from the bondage of poverty through improved programs on environmental protection and natural resources management.
“I am deeply happy and humbled by the President’s decision and I intend to be worthy of the honor of the President’s confidence,” Paje said.

While maintaining that he will continue to serve at the pleasure of the President, Paje vowed to continue initiating administrative and policy reforms in the department.

He emphasized to the DENR employees the importance of fitness in government service. “Performers will be rewarded while the rogue and corrupt officials and employees shall be punished,” Paje said.

The DENR chief also added that erring employees shall not be allowed to tarnish the good name of the institution, “Kailanman ay hindi natin hahayaang sirain ng iilang tiwaling opisyal o empleyado ang pinagtrabahuan natin,” he said.

Paje also welcomed his latest assignments as chairman of the Cabinet cluster for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and as a member of the cluster on human development and poverty reduction. “I am doubly challenged now with the added mandates from the President,” Paje stressed.

President Aquino issued on May 13, Executive Order No. 43 creating five Cabinet clusters, namely: Good Governance and Anti-Corruption; Human Development and Poverty Reduction; Economic Development; Security, Justice and Peace; Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation.

Under the order, the DENR secretary shall serve as chairman of the cluster on climate change mitigation and adaptation and as a member in the human development and poverty reduction cluster.

The other members of the climate change cluster include the chairmen of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and the Metro Manila Development Authority; the secretaries of the Departments of Science and Technology, Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, Social Welfare and Development, Agriculture, Agrarian Reform, Energy, and National Defense. The Climate Change Commission shall function as the secretariat for the cluster.

“With the inclusion of climate change, the President has effectively reconfigured the entire bureaucracy into global-warming-responsive state apparatus,” he said.

Paje noted the cluster system would have the advantage of ensuring greater coordination of policies, programs and strategies among government agencies resulting in greater complementation of policies within the same cluster and across clusters.

“It will ensure complementation between education policy and health policy; industrial policy and macro-economic policy; social, environmental and economic policy,” Paje added, noting the system will also allow policy makers to anticipate, for, example, impacts of economic policy on employment creation and poverty reduction and environmental management as these policies would be clearly spelled out through a coordinated approach to policy formulation and planning.

Other important green initiatives of President Aquino, said Paje, include Executive Order No. 23, which bans logging in natural forests and the creation of an inter-agency task force against illegal logging, and Executive Order No. 26 declaring the implementation of the National Greening Program as a government priority program. “From ground-breaking presidential fiats like Executive Orders 23 and 26 to his initiatives in rallying our countrymen to celebrate the richness of the country’s natural splendor, the President has amply proven his commitment to the perpetuity of our country’s natural resources,” said Paje, citing the issuance of Executive Order (EO) No. 43 as “yet another example of the President’s commitment to his green agenda to safeguard and enrich the strength and viability of our nation both for the present and future generations.”