Press Releases

As political campaigns gain more momentum two weeks before the May 9 elections, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has also ramped up activities to remove campaign materials and other paraphernalia tacked or nailed on trees nationwide.

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said he had expected an increase in the DENR’s collection of illegal campaign materials days ahead of the elections, following the dismantling of 114,664 pieces and 2,050 kilos of campaign materials posted on trees.

Sampulna pointed out that there are common poster areas designated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec), and “trees are not one of those.”

The DENR chief warned that violators may face sanctions not only pertaining to election-related laws, but also environmental laws.

DENR field offices in Regions 9, 3 and 5 reported the highest confiscated materials with 21,650 pieces, 19,646 pieces, and 18,950 pieces of campaign materials, respectively.

Republic Act (RA) 3571 provides that cutting, destroying, or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises, or in any other public pleasure grounds are prohibited.

Section 3 of Presidential Decree No. 953 also states that violators could be punished with imprisonment from six months to two years, or a fine of not less than P500 and not more than P5,000, or both.

Meanwhile, Sampulna lauded the public’s support in reporting to the Comelec and the DENR through social media and text messages, even as he urged them to take photographs or video recording of violators.

“The candidates themselves should promote environmentally conscious election campaigns,” Sampulna said.

The DENR, Comelec, and the Department of the Interior and Local Government signed the Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2010-01 on March 30, 2010, enjoining political parties, including party-list groups, and individual candidates to enforce relevant provisions of RA 9006 or the Fair Elections Act and RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

JMC 2010-01 calls for the reduction of volume of wastes during and after election periods, use of recyclable and reusable materials for production of eco-friendly items, and protection of trees from harm brought about by nailing or placing of campaign materials.

 

“Implementing this JMC runs along the DENR’s push to exhaust all avenues possible like the national and local polls to promote good environmental citizenship and enable our fellow Filipinos to adopt sound solid waste management practices as part of their lifestyle,” Sampulna said.

He said that the DENR will continuously remind candidates and their supporters to be responsible and accountable in posting and proper disposal of election campaign materials.

He also urged them to be the model of responsible leadership in the course of their campaign.

The confiscated campaign materials, mostly tarpaulins, will be donated to environment groups such as EcoWaste Coalition and like-minded organizations that recycle the materials into useful items like bags and school supplies. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is discussing workable action plans with the Department of Tourism (DoT), the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Province of Aklan, and the Municipal Government of Malay to control the number of tourists visiting Boracay Island.

This came after the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG), a DENR-led task force, reported that the surge in the number of visitors breached the government-set carrying capacity of the island during the Holy Week break on April 14-15, with 21,011 and 22,278 tourist arrivals, respectively.

A study commissioned by the DENR in 2018 bared that Boracay Island’s carrying capacity is 19,215 tourists a day, or about 6,405 arrivals a day based on an average three-day stay.

“We are now discussing possible adjustments on policies and what strategies we will take to prevent this from happening again in the future,” said DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Atty. Jonas R. Leones.

Setting up a carrying capacity is in line with the DENR’s ongoing mission to protect and conserve the environment in Boracay.

If the population continuously exceeds the given carrying capacity, the ecosystem may become unsuitable for other species on the island to survive, or other resources may deplete.

BIARMG General Manager Martin Jose Despi explained that one of their recommended measures to prevent another overcrowding in Boracay is to integrate the use of QR codes in contact tracing into a control program aligned with monitoring the number of tourists going in the island.

In line with this, a proposed real-time monitoring system is necessary to see the total number of tourists issued with the QR code on a particular date.

Despi recommended a review on the data of airline and shipping passengers, and the total number of accommodations that booked tourists to prevent overbooking.

“We need an integrated information technology system that would take care of all these capabilities,” said Despi.

“The moment that we put place a relevant system or software, all of this would be properly addressed,” he added.

Leones added that DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau will be tasked to study on the possibility of increasing the island’s carrying capacity, noting that the
“DENR’s policies should be based on science.” ###

 

Acting Environment Secretary Jim O. Sampulna lauded the men and women from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-National Capital Region (DENR-NCR), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), and the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) for the successful conduct of the month-long Saturation Drive and Intensive Compliance Monitoring in Metro Manila.

“Without these hardworking field personnel deployed to ensure that all environmental laws are being implemented, our Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program will not move forward,” Sampulna said following the closing ceremony for the activity held at the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Amphitheater on April 7, 2022.

DENR officials, led by Undersecretary for Field Operations-Luzon, Visayas and Environment Atty. Juan T. Miguel Cuna, awarded certificates of appreciation to 314 field personnel from the DENR-NCR’s four Metropolitan Environmental Offices, 16 EMB regional offices, and LLDA.

The month-long activity aimed to ensure that establishments in Metro Manila are complying with the existing environmental laws.

It is also a replication of the activity conducted in Boracay in line with the rehabilitation efforts of the island.

Through compliance monitoring, the environmental inspectors were able to assess not only the effectiveness of the DENR as enforcers, but the relevance of the existing policies to changing conditions.

The activity also enabled the DENR to know the extent business establishments are able to follow environmental regulations.

Likewise, it allowed the agency to make the corrections to improve environmental compliance, especially in air and water quality monitoring laws.

Meanwhile, DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline Caancan said that the team has “just barely scratched the surface.”

“We hope that our intensified expansive compliance monitoring activities with the help of the other regional offices will improve the water quality in Manila Bay and its tributaries,” she said.

Caancan also appealed for more stakeholder participation through a “whole-of-government approach to give the management a more comprehensive picture on the ground.”

Since the launch of this activity, 3,053 establishments in Metro Manila were inspected for their compliance with the environmental laws. ###

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna urged businesses to step up efforts in switching to sustainable actions to combat the effects of climate change and environmental destruction in celebration of the Earth Day on April 22.

With this year’s theme “#InvestInOurPlanet,” Sampulna encouraged manufacturing companies, food businesses, and market vendors to join efforts to minimize the use of non-biodegradable and single-use plastics for packaging, which are the major contributor to the country’s residual and solid waste.

Sampulna emphasized that small actions, such as recycling and re-using materials, are helpful, however industries should also take part as they are also producers of plastic waste.

“Using small plastic packaging like sachets and plastic bottles is still rampant in our country today. I am urging all manufacturing firms to come up with their own recovery project where they will retrieve and buy back these plastic wastes from their consumers for cash or even food items like rice and groceries,” said Sampulna.

Likewise, the DENR chief called on food companies to switch to food packaging that is reusable or biodegradable, as these wastes, when not properly disposed of, end up in creeks, rivers, and oceans.

“I am appealing to our restaurants and food businesses not to use plastic utensils, styrofoam materials and single-use plastic containers. Instead, use eco-friendly or reusable food packages,” Sampulna said.

Sampulna also encouraged market vendors and small store owners to change their customary ways of packaging retail items using single-use plastics, which include placing cooking oil, condiments such as vinegar and soy sauce, in plastic for “tingi” or retail purchases.

He recommended the use of old newspapers and magazines for wrapping dried fish instead of using plastics.

“I suggest that when the public buys from your stores, ask or encourage them to bring reusable bags and containers,” Sampulna said.

“This Earth Day 2022, I urge both businesses and individuals to rethink the customary ways on how to sell and consume products. Let us all take sustainable actions to heal the planet Earth,” he pointed out.

Earth Day, celebrated annually on April 22, is a global movement where over 190 countries take part through the promotion of sustainable environmental actions and behavioral change.

This year, the DENR celebrated Earth Day highlighted by the recognition of four DENR environmental heroes or workers of the department who have dedicated their lives protecting the environment.###

 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna has led the DENR community in giving recognition to 69 employees of the agency who passed the 2020-2021 Bar examinations.

Sampulna shared his optimism for the successful Bar examinees during the DENR’s flag-raising ceremony on April 18, hoping that the new lawyers will stay in government service in the long-term.

“This augurs well for DENR’s continuing program to strengthen its legal arsenal,” Sampulna said, noting that many of the new lawyers were fresh law school graduates when they were hired as legal researchers.

Of the 69 bar passers, 17 are employed in the DENR Central Office in Quezon City; 12 in Region 2; five each in Region 4B and Region 6; four in Region 5; three each in Region 8 and the Cordillera Administrative Region; two each in Regions 1, 9, 10, 12, 13; and one each in Regions 3, 4A and 7.

Seven others are with the DENR’s bureaus and attached agencies comprising one each in the Land Management Bureau, Forest Management Bureau, and Environmental Management Bureau, and two each in the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Laguna Lake Development Authority.

Joseph Lorenz Asuncion, from the office of the DENR Assistant Secretary for Legal Affairs, landed in the exemplary list for obtaining 85-90 percent rating in the Bar exams.

Sampulna added that the high turnout of Bar passers from the DENR “points to the fact that we are getting the right people in the service, which puts the DENR in a stronger position to deliver high resolution of cases in its legal office.”

DENR’s program to beef up its legal front started in 2017 when former Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu ordered the fielding of at least one lawyer in each of the 140 Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices and 74 Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices nationwide for immediate and meaningful services at the community and provincial levels.

Sampulna explained the move will particularly strengthen and speed up the resolution of lower-level cases, including land claims and disputes, which form the bulk of cases handled by the DENR.

A total of 814 reversion cases are presently filed by the DENR with the courts nationwide, 484 of which involve land titles found to be within classified forestland.

Another 429 land titles are presently undergoing assessment by DENR lawyers prior to filing of reversion cases before the courts.

DENR Legal Affairs Service Director Atty. Norlito A. Eneran said the DENR does not have the power to cancel these titles like the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Instead, it has to file reversion cases in court.

“Reversion cases are laborious and a long process, especially so if these lands are already occupied,” Eneran said, noting that only the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) is allowed to file reversion cases based on the documents from the DENR.

Eneran said DENR lawyers are deputized by the OSG as counsels for the government in reversion cases. ###