Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), through the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB), is now conducting geohazard mapping on the country’s coastal areas.

“With the completion of our geohazard mapping project on landslide- and flood-prone areas, the MGB is now set for coastal geohazard mapping, with particular attention on the effects of the rising sea level due to climate change. This will give us solid information as to which coastal areas or shorelines are experiencing erosion or are prone to erosion to enable the government plan for a more responsive risk reduction program for these areas and other climate change mitigating and adaptation measures,” DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said.

Coastal erosion is a result of a number of geologic, oceanographic and atmospheric factors, including the relative sea level rise due to climate change. However, the rise of sea level can also result from man-made activities such as beach mining, Paje stressed. He said that beach resorts and other infrastructure constructed along coastal areas are the ones that will be primarily affected by erosion due to rise of sea level.

In a report to Secretary Paje, MGB Acting Director Leo Jasareno said among the environmental changes that will be looked into under the project includes the erosion and accretion or sedimentation of shorelines.

Jasareno also said that for this year, MGB’s Marine Geology Division, which is conducting the geohazard assessment, is targeting 97 coastal areas as priority areas in the provinces of Cagayan, La Union, Iloilo, Aklan, Antique, Negros Oriental and Cebu.

Among the parameters set by MGB in determining the priority areas to be covered by the project include the area’s inherence to vulnerability, average rainfall, wind surges affecting the area, and the number of population in the coastal area, among others.

Jasareno indicated that the initial activities under the project include shoreline mapping activities, gathering of erosion evidences such as exposed roots of vegetation in the area, eroded roads and infrastructure, and gathering of anecdotal and historical information from the coastal populace.

“The existence of these evidences in the area would somehow confirm that the area is prone to erosion,” Jasareno said.
Paje said the MGB is expected to come up with a report on this project and a coastal geohazard map that would include details such as the number of hectares of eroded coastal areas, the rate of erosion and accretion in a certain area, as well as identification of coastal areas vulnerable to erosion.

On order of President Benigno S. Aquino III, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje directed the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) to intensify environment and safety measures in mining operations throughout the country to minimize, if not to prevent, mining accidents.

“I have directed the Mines Bureau and all its regional offices to make sure that mining companies religiously observe safety measures in their mining operations to prevent loss of lives and property, as well minimize adverse impacts on environment,” Paje said.

Paje’s directive came on the heels of landslides following heavy rains that occurred recently in a mountain village in Tampakan town in South Cotabato, where three small-scale miners were reportedly trapped in the mine tunnels that collapsed as a result of the landslides.

The victims were allegedly involved in sluice mining or banlas. Sluice mining is a method of mining that involves the pouring of large amounts of water to wash off the mountain’s surface and expose the rocks that contain the gold ore to be extracted, according to the report.

“We will continue to experience the effect of La Nina so that even with the onset of summer, heavy rains are expected in some parts of the country. With all the earthquakes occurring lately, we have to ensure that companies give priority to safety measures in their operations,” Paje said.

According to Paje, the DENR has long set strict safety rules and regulations on large-scale mining operation embodied in DENR Administrative Order No. 2000-98. “This order specifically provides for the mine safety and health standards in mining operations. It also provides for the creation of a multi-partite monitoring team composed of representatives from the MGB, concerned local government units, the operating mining company, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and other concerned agencies and entities, tasked to regularly conduct inspection to check on environment and safety measures in the mines site.

Mining projects are likewise mandated to employ at least one full time safety engineer and safety inspector to oversee the implementation of safety measures in the mines site, Paje added.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced the deadline for submission of entries for schools participating in the 2011 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools on April 29, 2011.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje urged schools to start submitting their eco-friendly programs to qualify. “We hope more schools will participate and take part in heightening environmental awareness among our youth,” Paje said.

Launched in 2009, the competition generated positive responses from various schools and this paved the way for the next wave of the competition this year.

The nationwide contest dubbed, “National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools,” was organized to highlight the commitments of schools in implementing various environmental programs. Open to all elementary, high school and tertiary school levels, the activity aims to encourage schools and academic institutions to become more actively involved in environmental issues at a practical and local level. It also aims to develop skills and understanding among students, faculty and school administrators to initiate active responses and increase community awareness and involvement on environmental concerns.

A total of nine schools were declared as national champs for the 2009 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools. For the elementary category, the winners were: First prize - Peñablanca East Central School, Aggugaddan-Malibabag, Peñablanca, Cagayan; Second prize - North Central Elementary School, Bonuan Gueset, Dagupan City, Pangasinan; and Third prize - Badas Elementary School, Badas, Placer, Surigao del Norte.

For the high school category, the winners were: First place - La Castellana National High School, La Castellana, Negros Occidental; Second place - Camarines Sur National High School, Naga City, Camarines Sur; and Third place- Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School, Matina, Davao City.

For the college category, topping the list were: First place – Palawan State University, Puerto Princesa City, Palawan; Second place – Visayas State University, Baybay, Leyte; and Third place – Catanduanes State Colleges , Virac, Catanduanes.

The national search is a joint activity of the DENR through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the Department of Education (DepEd), Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and Smart Communications.

Smart Communications joins the activity as part of its own environment advocacy for schools. “We are happy to partner with the DENR and other agencies for this nationwide search. This activity will encourage schools to promote environmental consciousness among the youth,” said Ramon Isberto, head of Smart Public Affairs .

Specifically, the participating schools are required to fill up their on-line entry at the National Search for Sustainable and Eco-friendly School website at http://www.sustainableschools.ph and submit their entries in three (3) hard copies.

School entries should revolve around the theme, Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Initiatives. Participating schools should include a brief description of their projects.

Entries will be rated according to the following: environment-related aspects of the school’s policy (20 pts); environment-friendly school operations and presence of environmental programs (30 pts); environment-related features of the school curriculum (30 pts); presence of vibrant eco organizations in campus (10 pts); and presence of partners and linkages in environment programs/projects (10 pts).

Only one entry per school will be accepted.

For the national level, prizes for all categories include: P50,000 - 1st Prize; P40,000 - 2nd Prize; P30,000 - 3rd Prize and plaques of recognition.

For the regional level, a certificate of recognition and a prize of P10,000 (in cheque) will be given to regional finalists for each category.

All winning entries for each of the three categories, together with selected entries will be displayed during the national awarding ceremonies in November 2011, coinciding with the National Environmental Awareness Month celebration.

For further details, please contact the Environmental Education and Information Division of the Environmental Management Bureau-DENR. Telefax: (02) 9284674. or Tel. No. 9202251 Website: www.emb.gov.ph or www.sustainableschools.ph.

“Think globally, act locally.”

This, Environment and Natural Resources Ramon J.P. Paje urged the Filipinos in addressing both economic and environmental issues facing the country and the world today.

“With the continuing rise in oil prices brought about by political instabilities in the Middle East countries, it is but necessary for us Filipinos as a nation to make adjustments in our lifestyle so as to minimize the impact of rising cost of living to our families. As our forefathers would tell us, “kung maiksi ang kumot, matuto tayong bumaluktot,” Paje said.

“If there’s anything that we need to do in the face of these uncertainties, such should have reduced impact on the environment or, that would reduce our carbon footprint,” Paje continued.

Carbon footprint refers to the totality of the impact or effect of all activities done by an organization, group or individual on the environment. It covers all greenhouse gases that each individual or organization may emit in the atmosphere as a result of its activities.

Paje said that Filipinos, whether they be in the homeland or overseas, should set an example to always be mindful of one’s carbon footprint as the continuing increase of carbon emissions in the atmosphere will trigger greater global warming and climate change.

Citing that the country’s problem with garbage remains a serious concern due to the methane released from open dumpsites, Paje said that a simple act of waste segregation or separating the recyclables from compostable by each household can have “a very far-reaching contribution” to the global effort to slow down global warming. “Ang basurang nakatambak ay isa sa mga pangunahin pinanggagalingan ng methane, isang uri ng greenhouse gas na nagpapainit sa ating mundo. Pag uminit ang mundo, ang matinding tama ay hindi sa mga malalaking bansa kundi sa maliliit na islang-bansa tulad ng Pilipinas.”

According to him, the Philippines as well as other small islands the world over have long been identified by scientists and experts to be at the receiving end of all these catastrophic impacts of climate change. “We have already seen the impact of climate change with typhoon Ondoy in Metro Manila and other similar typhoons in the Visayas and Mindanao. With all the fighting taking place in the Middle East, the nuclear crisis in Japan, the volcanic eruptions everywhere – there is no doubt all these contribute to increased global emissions that would have far greater impact on the Philippines and other small islands the world over,” Paje explained.

Reports indicate that the carbon footprint of the Philippines is equal to 0.8 metric tons per capita or 0.3 of one percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Paje appealed that while the country’s contribution to the global gas emission may be miniscule compared with bigger, affluent economies, “this should not stop us from being environmentally-conscious, from adopting ‘green’ acts as every little act of either lowering or offsetting our carbon footprint is very important to the totality of human intervention to mitigate climate change.”

Paje also cited the increasing oil prices as an opportunity to reduce one’s carbon footprint. “I am not saying that the increasing cost of gasoline and diesel is good, but let us approach the problem on a positive note. Why don’t we take this as an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint?” he asked.

According to him, the steep oil prices should motivate each Filipinos to adopt ways to conserve gas and electricity, not only in the workplace but more so in the house. “We can always do something to reduce our energy consumption like turning off lights that are not in use, hanging our clothes to dry instead of using dryer which consumes electricity,” he said, noting that sun-dried clothes smell good and refreshing.

Based on the 2008 “Philippines in Figures” published by the National Statistics Office (NSO), the most common appliances in the Filipino household are radio and television set.

As of 2000, over 11 million Filipino families owned a radio, while eight million had a television set. Other common household appliances are refrigerators (present in about five million Filipino households), washing machines and video cassette recorders (each of which is present in about three million homes.)

Power ratings, measured in watts, show the running capacity of appliances: radio has a 5-watt power rating, while stereo has between 10 and 30 watts, a television’s power rating is listed as ranging generally from 100-350 watts.

Refrigerators, however, are the most “electric dependent” item in a household as it has to be plugged in 24/7. Air-conditioners, which have power ratings ranging from 400 to a whopping 3,500 watts, also use large amounts of energy. This household item is, however, not yet as a fixture in Filipino households as transistor radios, according to the 2008 NSO survey.

But Paje reiterated that small steps like simply unplugging appliances and other electrical items when not in use are “small but great acts of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

“Akala mo maliliit lamang, subalit napakalaki ang tulong na magagawa mo sa mundo,” added Paje citing as a very good example the idle cell phone chargers which when not unplug still consume 25 percent of their energy wattage consumption.

According to NSO data, the number of Filipinos who own cellular phones more than doubled in the last 10 years from around 400,000 in 1990 to 2 million in 2000.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has designated a senior official to head the Internal Audit and Anti-Corruption Office in a move to fortify the anti-corruption program in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In DENR Special Order No. 2011-177 issued on March 3, 2011, Paje named Assistant Secretary Daniel M. Nicer, a lawyer, to directly supervise the Internal Audit Service (IAS) of the agency, as well as exercise supervision and control over the Personnel Investigation Division of the Legal Service, and the Special Action and Investigation Division.

This, despite an earlier announcement by the Pulse Asia, which found the DENR to have made an impressive leap to 4th place, from 8th in 1999, in the rooster of top10 agencies considered as “least corrupt”. The Pulse Asia Survey was conducted from February 24-March 6 this year.

“That the DENR is the only regulatory agency to have made it to the Top 4 of the least corrupt agencies comes as a solid affirmation that an appreciably degree of effectiveness must have gone into our house-cleaning efforts, thereby earning the kind of respect we are beginning to enjoy among our kababayan,” Paje said, noting that all the first three placers were service-oriented agencies led by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Education (DepEd).

While saying that a strong headstart has been made in key areas of the DENR’s operations, particularly in the central office, Paje recognized that removing the conditions for graft in the field offices where majority of its 25,000-strong workforce are stationed, as the “most defining benchmark”.

Among the policy reforms which Paje instituted since his assumption of the DENR leadership last July include the donation of confiscated forest products to the Department of Education instead of the putting these under public auction.

“It has been the practice before that once the apprehended logs, lumber or other forest products have been confiscated in favor of the government, these were turned over to the Natural Resources Development Corp. (NRDC) for public auction. The unfortunate thing here is that anybody can join the public auction, including those suspected of having a hand in the illegal logging activities,” Paje explained.

This situation, said Paje, is now being addressed with the recent directive of President Benigno S. Aquino III for the DENR to give priority to DepEd in the donation of the confiscated forest products, and the signing last week of a memorandum of agreement by the DENR with DepEd, the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), and PAGCOR, for the conversion of the donated forest products into desks, armchairs, cabinets and other school furniture.

Paje likewise instituted a drastic reform measure in the mining sector by ordering the cleansing of pending mining applications in the Mines and Geo-sciences Bureau (MGB) and its regional offices nationwide. Also up for final action by the agency are exploration contracts that have already expired for five years or more and mining contracts whose three-year program have not been implemented for two consecutive years.

Other anti-corruption measures in place in the DENR include the installation of close-circuit television cameras, posting of process flow charts in strategic places, adoption of the DENR Citizen’s Charter and the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards, all of which were also published in all websites of the department’s bureaus and regional offices.

Despite the positive survey findings, Paje urged his officials and subordinates not to be complacent. He said, “The score should continue to remind us that we are far from winning the fight against corruption. Yes, we may have made some gains but corruption remains an enormous drain on the country’s resources which can better be used for improved social services.”

Other tasks assigned to Nicer include the conduct of investigations involving corruption by officials and personnel and the filing of appropriate cases in the proper forum, conduct and supervision of training and seminars for administrative reforms and anti-corruption, monitoring of specific anti-corruption programs and projects of the Department, and the updating and enhancement of all anti-corruption instruments and activities of the DENR.