Press Releases

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.


Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said that damages inflicted on the Bakud (Takut) Reef in Kiamba, Sarangani by MV Double Prosperity last May 8 should include not only the cost of the damaged coral area but the total worth of marine services that have been lost.
“We estimate that the damaged cost in Bakud Reef could run up to PhP42 million. But this amount is like giving a slap on the wrist on the ship’s owners as the value in marine services that was lost as a consequence of the accident is invaluable,” Paje said.

Thus, Paje directed Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) Director Mundita Lim to recommend in tomorrow’s meeting of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of the Sangani Bay Protected Seascape, to consider in the computation of penalty to be imposed on the erring ship the lost value of marine services that would remain non-existent for at least 20 years, the minimum period needed before it can regain its former condition,” Paje stressed.

Paje said P42 million is too small a compensation. It does not take into consideration to the lost marine life that could have spawned in the rich marine that could ultimately benefitted even millions of Saranggani residents especially for the region’s fisherfolk and its allied enterprise dependent on the region’s teeming fishing industry.

The 225-meter Panama-registered cargo tanker, loaded with 65,900 metric tons of coal, was heading for India from Australia when it plowed through a portion of Bakud Reef which is within the 215,950- hectare Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape (SBPS), a declared protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 756.

A hectare (10,000 square meters) of coral reef has an annual average value of US$130,000 in terms of services to humans, according to a research posted at the Science Daily website

Paje said that the SBPS’s Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) is yet to give an official damage cost and hopes that the figure it will come up with would be reflective of the points he raised.

The SBPS-PAMB is co-chaired by Sarangani Governor Miguel Dominguez and DENR-Region 12 Executive Director Alfredo Pascual and is set to convene on May 18 to assess the damage.

“We must make sure that the operators of MV Double Prosperity pay the full amount of fines due for the reef damage their ship caused. To do any less would make a mockery of the Philippine legal system, particularly our National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Law and the Bakud Reef as a protected area,” Paje said.


The goal is to put back trees on hundreds of thousands of hectares where they once stood.

Today, May 13, 2011, President Benigno S Aquino III will lead the launching of the National Greening Program (NGP) at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City.

He will be joined in the launching ceremony by members of his Cabinet, notably the heads of the National Converge Initiative (NCI) core agencies, namely, Sec. Virgilio delos Reyes of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR), Sec. Proceso Alcala of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Sec. Ramon J. P. Paje of the DENR, and Executive Secretary Paquito N. Ochoa.

United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Resident Representative to the Philippines Dr. Jacqueline Badcock is also expected to attend to receive the NGP Plans and Targets, the country’s contribution to the International Year of Forests (IYF). Through a resolution, the UN has declared 2011 as IYF.

In a fitting show of example, Pres. Aquino will launch the government’s 6-year reforestation program by registering on-line to the NGP website, thus shall becoming the first NGP registrant, in an apparent gesture of inspiring the citizenry to follow suit and cast the citizens’ support as well.

Targeted at greening some 1.5 million hectares of degraded forest lands, NGP will focus essentially at developing a sustainable forest resource base to accelerate the national greening campaign and rejuvenate rural economies in parts of the nation’s most chronically poor areas in the uplands, ultimately providing livelihood opportunities for some six million families in the upland areas across the country within six years, from 2011 to 2016.

NGP also seeks to improve water quality in rivers and irrigation for farm lands, reduce the potential for flooding, soak up carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and lay the foundation for an expanded wood-products economy.

President Aquino issued EO 26 on February 24, 2011 establishing the NGP 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, Aquino issued Executive Order No. 23 which bans logging in natural and residual forests nationwide and, at the same time, calls for the preparation of a blueprint for a National Greening Program (NGP) to be formulated by the DENR, DAR and DA through a Convergence Initiative, in coordination with concerned national line agencies including the local government units. The launching ceremony will start at around 9:30 a.m. at the DENR Social Hall, with the signing of a memorandum of agreement between DENR Secretary Paje and Energy Development Corporation Chairman Emeritus Oscar M. Lopez for the joint implementation of “BINHI: A Greening Legacy,” a 10-year program that aims to contribute to the restoration of forest cover in the country while addressing the problem on biodiversity loss.

It will be followed by messages from Agriculture Secretary Alcala and Agrarian Reform Secretary Delos Reyes.

DENR Secretary Paje comes next with a presentation on the overview of the National Greening Program as a new development model that offers incentives to stimulate tree nurturing. The NGP Plans and Targets will then be turned over by Paje to UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Jacqueline Badcock, as the Philippine contribution to the International Year of Forests (IYF).

President Aquino has earlier issued Proclamation 125, declaring 2011 as the National Year of Forests in the Philippines, in support of the UN declaration.

During the event, the President will also give posthumous awards of recognition to seven “environmental heroes” (four are DENR, three are non-DENR) for having stood up to the call of duty and sacrificing their lives for the protection of the country’s environment and natural resources.

The launching will be concluded with Pres. Aquino planting a Narra sapling at the Heroes Park located at the back of the DENR main building.