Press Releases

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje is once again urging the public to be conscious of their carbon footprint as they engage in various activities this summer season.

The season also marks the Holy Week break, when Filipinos are able to spend more time with their families and loved ones whether in the provinces or taking vacation trips elsewhere.

“Filipinos, largely Christians by religion, traditionally use this time to atone for their sins. Religious beliefs aside, let us be sorry about our actions that may have contributed to the degradation of our environment. And since reparation comes with atonement, let us then use the time to care for and cultivate God’s creation to make up for our ‘sins’,” he said.

Paje also said that the summer vacation is “a good time to encourage students to put science to work, especially those that relate to the care of the environment.”

In Friday’s First Consultative Meeting on the National Greening Program (NGP), the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education have committed to mobilize students in various activities of NGP such as tree planting, seedling production and waste segregation at source. For this, Paje, who is a forester by profession, is urging everyone, especially the students, to start collecting seeds of fruits they consume, and may even try to plant them in pots or empty cans and nurture them until they are ready for transplanting come the rainy season.

The NGP, which the DENR is mandated to lead the implementation of, along with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform, aims to plant a billion and a half trees in 1.5 million hectares over a six-year period.

For Holy Week and the rest of the summer vacation, the environment chief gives the following pointers to reduce one’s carbon footprint:

 

Motorists should make sure their vehicles are well-maintained to be more fuel-efficient and thus minimize air pollution, which is usually aggravated by the dry weather. Better yet, get involved in hiking or biking activities that promote better human and environmental health.
Practice solid waste management by recycling or reducing waste, as well as bringing reusable bags and containers when going to markets or supermarkets. Dispose of garbage properly, and avoid throwing litter especially in beaches, rivers and other water bodies. Also, minimize the use of plastic bags.
Encourage neighbors to engage in cleaning up surroundings like declogging of storm drainage in preparation for the rainy season.
Avoid wasteful consumption of resources especially paper, water and electricity.
The DENR secretary also reminded the vacationers to take care in disturbing the conditions of flora and fauna especially in eco-tourism spots. “Environmentalists believe in and practice the saying, ‘Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.’ This is what we need to observe to make sure that future generations will still enjoy what we are enjoying now,” said Paje.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje urged the people to rally to President Aquino’s call to reforest the entire country through the National Greening Program (NGP.)

Paje made this pitch on Friday (April 14, 2011) at the opening of the 1st Consultative Summit for the NGP at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) central office in Quezon City.

He said NGP, which was formalized in Executive Order (EO) No. 26, mandates the planting of 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of public lands from 2011 to 2016.

Paje stressed EO 26 is an important element in the country’s strategic campaign to insulate itself from the ravages of climate change and it comes in the heels of EO 23, which bans logging in natural and residual forests.

The DENR chief noted that it is the first time in the country’s history that Malacanang had ordered a sustained campaign to restore the integrity of forests by planting tree species that check soil erosion, protect watersheds and sequester carbon dioxide.

Paje said the summit was organized to achieve a consensus among stakeholders on how to proceed with the reforestation program, particularly among frontline departments like DENR, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Education (DepED), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Department of Social Work and Development (DSWD), including the Commission on Higher Education and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

Paje said NGP is actually a legacy to Filipino children and the succeeding generations that would profit from the sustained reforestation program.

“On behalf of our President and our colleagues in the Cabinet, may I thank you for your abiding trust and active participation in this consultative summit. Indeed, we are working for progressive change in the way we do things and relate to our country, our home, and to each other – supportive and one with the dreams and aspirations of our leadership and our people. They who are our real bosses,” Paje said.

“In my experience, I have seen our country continue to come to grips with its own finite resources, its own limits at healing itself, considering what our people require of it, demand of it today. As we all move into breaking the 100-million population level very soon, we must begin to realize our responsibility as stewards of our country for our children’s use. If we do not do something now, as responsible stewards, it may be too late to reverse some of the bad things happening to our country today,” the DENR chief said.

“Each one of us can only be one of two things in this arena: either be a responsible steward or an irresponsible user. Irresponsible use may just be what will break the proverbial camel’s back. Our collective experience shows us that times have been hard for those who would try to protect our environment, keep it safe and even enrich it for the future of our children,” Paje noted.

The summit tackled the mechanics of the NGP, specifically how it could utilize the energies of millions of people in planting 1.5 billion trees in a span of 5 years, raise the people’s awareness on the necessity of reforestation, and make stakeholders monitor and safeguard the success of the program diligently.

He said UP at Los Banos and its College of Development Communication are at the forefront of the NGP’s information, education and communication (IEC) campaign and all the inputs gathered during the summit will help craft a viable and sustainable NGP. The participants also signed a resolution on the NGP, and declared their commitment to “promote the program and help organize our respective official communities and the Filipino people to mobilize and act in earnest to achieve NGP’s objectives.”

Six departments will meet tomorrow (April 15, 2011) for the 1st Consultative Summit on the National Greening Program (NGP) to prepare for the formal launch of the campaign to plant 1.5 billion trees until 2016.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje said the one-day summit, to be held at the Social Hall of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City, will also involve the civil society, academe, private sector and other stakeholders.

The six departments leading in the implementation of the NGP are the DENR, Department of Agriculture (DA), Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Education (DepEd), and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DWSD).

"The Summit is a high-level forum for all the stakeholders taking part in the National Greening Program from both the government and the private sector to address critical issues related to identifying opportunities for both sides to work closer and more efficiently not only to rehabilitate of our denuded upland areas but also reduce poverty, promote food security and mitigate the impacts of climate change," said Paje. President Aquino issued Executive Order No. 26 on February 24, 2011 and established the NGP as a national priority aimed not only to reforest 1.5 million hectares of land but also to promote a sustained environmental awareness campaign in the face of the deleterious effects of climate change.

Earlier, Mr. Aquino issued Executive Order No. 23 that banned logging in natural and residual forests nationwide.

DA Secretary Prospero Alcala and DAR Secretary Virgilio delos Reyes will grace the occasion as keynote speakers while DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo, DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro, DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Chairman Roque Agton, Jr. will give their statements of commitments to the program.

Specifically, the summit aims to: Get inputs on how to raise national awareness, knowledge and appreciation of the NGP; solicit commitments from all stakeholders identified in EO 26 in promoting the NGP; organize and build a network of NGP advocates from various sectors such as government line agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, civil society, academe and media, and set up the National Environment Stewardship Advisory Services (NESAS) which will lay down the groundwork for the advocacy and social mobilization activities and pave the way for establishing the Local Environment Stewardship Advisory Services (LESAS) at the regional level.

“The National Greening Program is the best way to imbue patriotism among our people,” said Paje, calling the program as homage to "Tahanan na Ating Lahi," which was culled from the patriotic oath of allegiance Panatang Makabayan. This call is consistent with President Aquino's pledge to nurture the country and environment.

The Summit comes three weeks to May 9, 2011, which is the launching of the NGP, referred to as the most comprehensive reforestation venture ever embarked on a national scale combining the resources and manpower of almost all national line agencies.

Paje, Alcala and De los Reyes are actually the key leaders of the National Convergence Initiative (NCI), which was designed to make the vast countryside conducive to massive food production through cash crops and tree plantations and other agribusiness ventures. The NCI has been assigned the task of initiating, implementing and monitoring the NGP.

For his part, DENR Assistant Secretary Marlo Mendoza stressed the NGP is a comprehensive response to environmental degradation.

Mendoza said the NGP is an example of a doable public-private partnership (PPP) designed to protect not only the environment but also to imbue all citizens with a sense of civic duty and patriotism. He will present the NGP Framework during the summit.

Paje said the program will also harmonize the greening efforts of the private sector and civil society pursuant to the state policy “to pursue sustainable development for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

To ensure the successful implementation of NGP, Paje said the program would be comprised of the following: Social mobilization, harmonization of initiatives, provision of incentives, and monitoring and management of database.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said the government is exploring avenues to address issues confronting the mining industry in the country, even as he stressed that various reforms were already being implemented to level the playing field, fight graft and corruption and improve environmental compliance by mining projects.
“We recognized that further reforms are needed,” Paje told the participants to the Asia Mining Congress 2011 held recently in Singapore, assuring them that the “government is bent on fully addressing the issues confronting the Philippine mining industry.”

Among the mining reforms being pursued by the government, Paje said, include the protection of mining investment, full implementation of the “use it, lose it” policy, upgrading of environmental standards, shift to value-adding activities, and strengthening of public-private partnership.

According to Paje, there is now an on-going effort to harmonize national and local policies affecting mining toward a more-friendly regime for the mining industry. He cited the case of the Tampakan mining project, which the government has committed to pursue and to resolve all attendant issues prior to its implementation in 2016.

At the same time, Paje enlightened the participants composed mostly of representatives of mining companies of the on-going cleansing of non-moving and non-performing mining contracts in all regional offices of the MGB. “This is based on the ‘use it or lose it’ policy that we have adopted recently to purge speculators and eliminate opportunities for graft and corruption,” he said.

But as the Philippine government works to improve the investment climate in mining, Paje underscored the upgrading as well of the environmental standards in the industry. “Environmental standards, which ensure the mitigation of the impacts of mining, are being defined clearly and applied in all mining operations, nationwide,” he said.

According to him, the environmental track record of mining contractors has become a critical consideration and that only those who are able to strictly comply with environmental management requirements of the Philippine mining law shall be granted with mining rights.

Further, Paje said the government plans to limit the direct shipping of certain ores to encourage the development of downstream industries for value adding. “This way,” he said, “we will be able to extract more benefits from the utilization of our mineral resources to the advantage of local governments and communities.” Through the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC), Paje said the government intends to strengthen the public-private partnership not only in the development of government assets and in pursuing exploration activities, but also in the conduct of a sustained information, education and communication program to enhance understanding of communities and improve the acceptability of mining projects.

The DENR chief acknowledged the continuing opposition of some sectors of the Philippine society against the mining industry, which he attributed to past and current experiences on the negative impacts of mining on the environment and host communities. “The industry continues to labor under the stigma of its ‘sins of the past’, which is aggravated by indiscriminate mining practices and the lack of a unified information campaign to address misconceptions about mining,” Paje said.

Relative to President Aquino’s efforts to fight graft and corruption, Paje assured the mining executives to expect full transparency in government transactions. According to him, he has already directed the MGB to upload in its website all relevant mining information, including status of tenements, bidding guidelines and results, among others.

Paje concluded his presentation by reiterating the President’s declaration in his inaugural speech that the Philippines “will be a predictable and consistent place for investment.”

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.