Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has secured the support of more than 5-million students in public elementary and secondary schools nationwide, along with officials and community leaders in 42,000 barangays, to kick off the National Greening Program (NGP).

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala will also mobilize the personnel of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in all regions to support the greening efforts, particularly its biofertilizer requirements.

Paje has been tasked by President Aquino to take the lead in the NGP, which was established through Executive Order No. 26 issued on February 24, 2011 to complement the prohibition of logging in natural and residual forests through Executive Order No. 23.

NGP mandates the planting of some 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of denuded and marginal lands all over the country from 2011 to 2016.
EO 26 also mandates the participation of 14 departments and government agencies, State Universities and Colleges (SUCs), local government units (LGUs) and enjoins non-government organizations (NGOs) and people's organizations (POs) to join the effort.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) also play a key role in the program as part of the National Convergence Initiative (NCI). NGP targets 100,000 hectares for replanting in 2011; 200,000 hectares for 2012; and 300,000 hectares yearly from 2013 to 2016 to complete its goal of reforesting a total of 1.5 million hectares.

The DENR chief said the NGP is also an economic program since it complements the DA's goal of achieving food security and alleviating poverty. NGP actually seeks to make 8 million hectares of degraded land productive in the long run.

“If for every hectare of land produces P10,000 per year,” Paje said, “this would mean an additional income of P80 billion for rural families annually.”

DAR Secretary Virgilio de los Reyes noted that since agrarian reform communities (ARCs) are located in or in the vicinity of forests, he said residents in these communities maintain close and mutually beneficial and protective relationship with forests.

“If we cannot protect our forests, we cannot protect our agrarian reform beneficiaries,” he said.

In his speech, read by Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corp. (PADCC) president Marriz B. Agbon, Alcala lauded the NCI and committed the DA to science-led sustainable agricultural technologies and development.

“Malinaw ang mga direktang benepisyo: Bawas-insidente ng kahirapan at kagutuman sa mga dahop na komunidad sa kapatagan man o uplands, at katiyakan sa pambansang kasapatan sa pagkain,” Alcala explained.

Citing the need for more irrigation facilities to enable farming, Alcala also underlined DA efforts to develop scientific organic farming in the countryside, reducing the costs of input to farmers and moving faster into sustainable natural methods.

Soil fertility and care being paramount, Alcala assigned BSWM to spearhead the organic development effort.

The Department of Education (DepEd) has committed 5-million students and faculty members to back up NGP.

Grades 5 and 6 and high school students will be focused on the denuded areas planting effort, while elementary schools will support the nursery efforts.

The Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) has committed the support of all SUCs and private colleges within its system.

For its part, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has committed to mobilize officials and residents in 42,000 barangays nationwide for the effort.

 

In a move to fast track the cadastral survey of all cities and municipalities nationwide, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje issued new guidelines on the final disposition of abandoned cadastral survey projects.

At the same time, Paje directed all regional officials to conduct an inventory of abandoned cadastral survey projects and establish a database to facilitate the determination of needed actions to complete the undertaking.

“Among the concerns of the present administration of President Benigno S. Aquino III is to fast-track the nationwide cadastral survey. This is in support of other critical projects of the government, such as land titling, land use planning, taxation and the internal revenue allotment (IRA) program for the different municipalities nationwide,” DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said.

Paje, however, said the nationwide cadastral survey program is hindered by some abandoned survey projects which the government has contracted out with private surveyors.

“DENR Administrative Order No. 2011-05, which sets the new guidelines on the disposal of abandoned cadastral survey projects, is intended not only to systematize the process of resolving this issue of abandoned or incomplete cadastral survey projects but also to facilitate the development of a database that can also serve as a monitoring tool as it can be updated anytime,” Paje explained.

Cadastral survey is a type of land survey intended to determine the administrative boundary of a city or a municipality and its component barangays. It also includes the determination of administrative boundary of lots in alienable and disposable lands of the public domain for purposes of land titling.

Paje said the DENR is set to complete the survey of 263 more municipalities and 18 cities with total coverage of 6,312, 932 hectares during year.

Records from the Land Management Bureau indicated that from 2007 to 2010, some 104 cities and 780 municipalities, with accumulated area of 16,898,210 hectares, already have complete and approved cadastral survey results, while some 294 municipalities and 12 cities with total land area of 6,718,043 hectares are partially surveyed.

“This leaves us with 45 municipalities to target in the coming years, and those that have been left abandoned,” Paje said.

Among other things, the DENR order provides for the procedures in handling abandoned cadastral surveys, including incomplete projects, projects with uncorrected survey returns, unfinished survey projects either due to the death of the contractor or force majeure.

Under the order, a cadastral survey project is considered abandoned under the following conditions: 1) when field activities are left unfinished after the period stipulated in the contract, 2) when the contractors fail to correct survey defects within the period to be determined by the DENR regional office, and 3) when such cadastral project awarded in earlier DENR cadastral programs is listed as “not completed” in the DENR inventory.

Paje said he has given the regional executive director (RED) of the DENR the authority to cancel abandoned cadastral survey projects and to determine the appropriate sanctions to be imposed on the contractor.

Among the grounds where the RED can imposition sanctions against an erring contractor or geodetic engineer include the following: failure to complete the survey within the contract period; failure to undertake the necessary correction of the survey projects within the prescribed period; failure to return survey project records; and other violations on other provisions in the contract.

 

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje wants to ensure they have a watertight case against three DENR workers in Baguio City who were recently caught in an entrapment operation by agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Cordillera.

In a memorandum to Regional Executive Director Clarence Baguilat of the DENR-Cordillera Administrative Region, Paje instructed Baguilat to “spare no opportunities” in working with the NBI authorities in order to strengthen the case against forester Victorino Bilayan, chief of Forest Protection Unit at CENRO-Baguio City and his two forest rangers, namely Mark Chaloping and Antonio Abellera.

“We are paying special attention on this case, considering that a forestry official holding a sensitive position in our effort to protect our forests is involved here,” Paje said, referring to Bilayan. “This should send a strong signal that there are no ‘holy cows’ in our anti-corruption campaign,” Paje said.

The three DENR employees were identified by the NBI-Cordillera authorities alleged to be part of an extortion ring operating in Baguio City with certain employees of the La Trinidad local government.

“The tragic irony here is that we have people in our ranks who have fallen to greed and have chosen to betray their sworn duty despite the glaring acts of selflessness by their peers who have given up their lives to the service,” Paje said, referring to the seven ‘environmental heroes’ whom the DENR honored recently at the DENR Heroes Park in Quezon City with President Benigno S. Aquino III leading the rites during the launch of the National Greening Program (NGP) last May 13.

Of the seven ‘environmental heroes’ honored, four were DENR employees -- one was a DENR senior forester and three were working as forest rangers. The other three ‘environmental heroes’ were non-DENR employees.

Last Sunday (May 22), the three erring DENR employees were caught in an entrapment operation with engineer Norman Simsim, land surveyor at the La Trinidad local government, while accepting marked money from a certain Beverly Moyamoy, whom Bilayan’s group allegedly asked the former to cough up some P50,000 in exchange for the withdrawal of an illegal logging case the group was threatening her with for debarking trees in violation of Presidential Decree 705.

The three, along with Simsim, have been charged with cases of robbery with intimidation, and graft and corruption in violation of Republic Act 3019 and for violation of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees (RA 6713). If found guilty, the three will be facing dismissal from service, outright forfeiture of benefits, and permanent disqualification from holding appointive government posts.

Bilayan entered the service in June 1990 as a field worker while Abellera is a few years shy from retirement having been in the service since 1979. Challoping, on the other hand, has been a forest ranger since 2002.

 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje on Wednesday (May 25) ordered DENR lawyers to start summary proceedings against personalities behind the smuggle try of some P35-million worth of turtles and corals seized from two container vans last May 1 aboard a vessel that came from Cotabato Province.

Paje gave the order as he condemned the poachers and their financiers who, he said, “have practically robbed the present and future generations of Filipinos” the benefits that would have come from these marine species in unquantifiable terms and should face the full extent of the law “in whatever way necessary.”

The incident comes at a time when the DENR is shoring up its efforts to stop wildlife trade through stricter enforcement of wildlife laws and more aggressive legal actions against violators of the country's environmental laws through the prosecution in special courts – or green courts – that have been designated by the Supreme Court.

“We shall certainly act with dispatch to make sure that the suspects face the punishment to the fullest extent,” Paje stressed, adding that he has already tasked wildlife experts of DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) to dig deeper into the incident and identify other personalities that should be charged besides a certain Exequiel Navarro, whom customs officials had earlier identified as the consignee of the contraband.

Navarro was already charged with violation of the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998. The code bans gathering, owning, selling or exporting of ordinary precious and semiprecious corals and provides a prison term of six months to two years, and a fine of up to PhP500,000.
Paje ordered DENR lawyers to find out if Navarro could be charged for violating the country’s Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act (Republic Act 9147).

Section 28 of R.A. 9147 states that any person who kills and destroys a critically endangered species may face an imprisonment of a maximum of 12 years and/or fine of as much as P1 million.

The shipper of the contraband declared the contents of the container vans as rubber aboard a vessel that left Cotabato on April 29. The shipment arrived at the Eva Macapagal Terminal in South Harbor, Manila.

But inspectors from the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, acting on a tip from an informant, found around 196 kilos of sea whips corals, 161 heads of preserved hawksbill and green turtles, 7,300 pieces of seashells and 21,169 pieces of black corals.

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is set to launch on Monday (May 23, 2 pm) a new project that would expand the country’s terrestrial protected areas in an effort to enhance the national protected areas system while addressing biodiversity loss.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, who will lead the launching at the Bulwagan Ninoy (formerly Visitor’s Center) at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center in Quezon City, said the new project, New Conservation Areas in the Philippines Project (NewCAPP), seeks not only to increase the terrestrial protected areas in the country but also to capacitate the DENR, local government units, civil society groups and local communities in the effective management of protected areas.

Also expected to grace the occassion are United Nations Development Program Portfolio Manager for Energy and Environment Amelia Supetran; Chairman Roque Agton, Jr. of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) and project partners from concerned local government units, indigenous peoples groups, non-government organizations and civil society are expected to deliver their messages of support for the program. Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Mundita Lim is slated to present the project brief.

According to Paje, nine key biodiversity areas have already been selected as pilot sites for the project, namely, Balbalan-Balbalasang National Park in the Cordillera Region, Zambales Mountains in Regions 1 and 3, Mts. Irid Angelo and Binuang in Region 4A, Polilio Group of Islands, also in Region 4A, Mts. Iglit Baco National Park in Region 4B, Nug as Lantoy in Region 7, Mt. Nacolod in Region 8, Mt. Hilong-hilong in Region 13, and Tawi-tawi Island in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

The project will be implemented for five years by the DENR, through PAWB, with support from UNDP and the Global Environmental Facility.

The project launch is being made as part of the national celebration of International Day for Biological Diversity (IDBD) observed every 22nd day of May, and in line with declaration of 2011 as International Year of Forests (IYF) by the United Nations. This year’s IDBD celebration is themed “Forest Biodiversity: Earth’s Living Treasure” while the theme for IYF is “Forests for People.” Prior to the project launch, Dir. Lim, together with the wife of the late botanist Leonard Co, will lead in the inauguration of the “Leonard Co Botanical Garden,” also at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center.