Press Releases

It’s the schools’ turn to get down and dirty as they showcase their freshest ideas and best practices in reusing, reducing, and recycling their waste.

Three government agencies and a non-government environmental network have once again joined hands to recognize students’ best initiatives in solid waste management with the forging of a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to launch the Zero Basura Olympics (ZBO) for Academic Division.

Formally sealing the partnership recently were the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the Department of Education (DepEd), the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), and Earth Day Network Philippines.

The ZBO version for schools is an offshoot of previous ZBO recognizing exemplary practices of local government units and businesses in implementing the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. It will be carried out next school year 2011-2012. Nominees will be categorized in three, representing elementary, secondary and tertiary levels. There will be three winners per category. The final mechanics will be announced later.

DENR Assistant Secretary Analiza Teh, representing Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, said the ZBO will seek to encourage students to be more innovative in promoting a cleaner environment. “Schools are cradles for values formation, and we cannot overstate their importance in fostering environmental principles in our youth. They will thus provide the best channels to implement the principles of ecological solid waste management,” she said.

On her part, EDNP chair and former DENR Secretary Elisea Gozun appreciated the opportunity to once again partner with the government in promoting environmental citizenship. “The ZBO will help inculcate in our youth the idea of considering every day as Earth Day,” she said.

Under the MOA, the EDNP will act as the project manager and national secretariat coordinator for the ZBO. The DepEd and CHED will disseminate its mechanics to all academic institutions and attached agencies, including media promotions. The CHED will also provide funding assistance to any champion who will submit an innovative Action Grant Proposal.

Meanwhile, the DENR will serve as secretariat of the Philippine Association of Tertiary Level Educational Institutions in Environmental Protection and Management (PATLEPAM) to get the support from member schools, as well as assist in information dissemination.

Representatives from the DENR, DepEd and CHED will also form a Regional Validation Committee which will review and shortlist qualifiers; conduct site visits; evaluate and finalize results based on criteria; and declare the respective winners. The committee may also select “With Very High Honors” awardees, or nominate one best entry per category to the Secretariat.

The ZBO will actually boost the academic sector’s implementation of two landmark environmental laws: RA 9003, and RA 9512 or the Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008. Prior to the enactment of RA 9003, the DepEd had already launched its own “War on Waste” program to promote the practice of reusing, reducing, and recycling waste.

The ZBO will also complement the on-going 2011 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools, which the DENR launched in September last year and whose awarding will be in November 2011.

 What better location to drum up awareness and advocacy regarding the state of the country’s rivers than on the Philippines’ most famous yet most abused and neglected river – Pasig River.

Pasig_River_fluvial-webThis was foremost in the minds of the more than 300 representatives from both public and private sectors who gamely boarded 35 boats Tuesday (March 15) to take part in the 18th Annual Pasig River Fluvial Parade. The journey set off at the Plaza Mexico Pasig River ferry service station in Intramuros, Manila and ended with a short program at the Makati Garden Park in Guadalupe, Makati City.

The parade was co-organized by the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) through its River Basin Control Office (RBCO), and the Sagip Ilog Pilipinas Movement (SIPM), formerly known as the Sagip Pasig Movement. Usually held in April to commemorate Earth Day, the parade was held earlier this year in observance of the International Day of Action for Rivers (March 14), as well as part of a series of activities commemorating World Water Day on March 22.

The SIPM has been working closely with the National Solid Waste Management Commission and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), which are both attached agencies of the DENR, in reducing pollution along the Pasig River primarily through the implementation of Republic Act 9003 or Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje had earlier cited the importance of the event in advocating for a cleaner Pasig River. “The Pasig River plays a very important role in the lives of Filipinos in Metro Manila and its environs, commercially and environmentally speaking. Ideally, we should be able to drink from, and bathe in, this river, yet we have turned it into one big septic tank,” he said.

He then lauded the SIPM for co-organizing the annual fluvial parade, especially in the adoption of this year’s theme “Save Philippine Rivers”, and as he expressed hope that the activity would be replicated in other rivers in the country.

During the short program in Makati City, RBCO Director Vicente Tuddao welcomed the chance to work with SIPM, calling it a “bold step” for all rivers and river basins in the country. “The country has 421 principal rivers and thousands of smaller waterways, including creeks and esteros. The number one problem with water is not availability, but pollution, and we need to implement the provisions of the Clean Water Act and penalize those who pollute the water,” he said.

In line with this, the SIPM and DENR launched the search for the first recipient of the Gawad Macli-ing Dulag Award for River Initiative, Single and Organizational Categories, recognizing exemplary acts of individuals or groups in the protection and rehabilitation of rivers.
SIPM Executive Director Myrna Jimenez said that the search for nominees will open in June, to be validated in September in time for the awarding during next year’s fluvial parade. “We will recognize acts in protecting any of the priority rivers identified by the DENR,” she said.

The DENR and the SIPM were joined for the fluvial parade by representatives from government agencies such as the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority led by General Manager Corazon Jimenez, representatives from the Office of the President and the National Commission for Culture and Arts; different Sangguniang Kabataan officials and barangay units along the Pasig River such as Pateros, San Juan, Paco, Makati and Quezon City; students from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines; and sponsors Unilever Philippines and Jollibee.

 More than a hundred participants representing water stakeholders from both public and private sectors attended the one-day National Forum on the State of Rivers in the Philippines held Monday (March 14, 2011) at the Sulo Riviera Hotel in Quezon City.

Organized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the forum highlighted the national celebration of March 14 as the International Day of |Action for Rivers, with the local theme: “Save Philippine Rivers”. It also served as a venue for consultation with the various stakeholders on the protection, rehabilitation, conservation and governance of the country’s rivers and river basins.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje called the event “timely” in light of the devastating earthquake which hit Japan recently, and which brought to fore problems in water supply for badly hit areas.

In his keynote speech, Paje lamented the people’s low regard in managing the country’s water resources. “At any given time, the country has 146 billion cubic meters of water available, yet we are treating it like a free resource… we are throwing water away by the second, and we are not managing it properly,” Paje said.

Paje also underscored that despite the abundance of water in the Philippines, not much of it is available for public consumption because of problems in “catching” and “keeping” the water such as through water impounding systems; lack of infrastructure, especially for irrigation; and pollution of water bodies.

Paje said addressing such issues would enable the country “to release water at the proper time and proper place, when we need it,” especially during disasters and calamities, as he called on the people to help protect the country’s rivers and river basins, which are considered the “bloodstream of society” supporting life of communities surrounding them.

A river basin is a portion of land that drains to a large river with an estuary or ocean as a final destination. The country has 421 principal river basins, with 20 major river basins having a drainage area of more than 1,000 square kilometers. Yet, a rapidly growing population resulting in increased economic activity and water pollution are putting stress on water resources, prompting the DENR to call for action amid a threat of scarcity of freshwater.

The DENR is initiating or collaborating with other government agencies a line-up of events to bring more attention to the need for sustainable water management. These include the Pasig River Fluvial Parade in Manila (March 15); Walkthrough and Boat Ride at Estero de Paco and Estero de San Miguel in Manila (March 16); Water Trail in Quezon City to be led by water concessionaires (March 21); Filipinos Walk for Watert, which is a local version of the Worldwide Walk for Water, and Executive-Legislative Dialogue on Water with President Aquino at SM Mall of Asia, and Symposium on Best Practices on Water at Micro Tel near SM-MOA, all on March 22 in celebration of World Water Day; Water Quality Management Area Forum at Richmond Hotel, Quezon City (March 24); and river cleanup of Estero dela Reina/Tullahan in Gagalangin, Tondo (March 25).

World Water Day is celebrated every March 22. This year’s theme is “Water for Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge”, which aims to spotlight and encourage governments, organizations, communities and individuals to actively engage in addressing challenges of water management in urban areas.

 Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje welcomed a recent resolution by the country’s highest tribunal ordering government agencies to abide by deadlines in cleaning up Manila Bay.

“I personally welcomed the move of the Supreme Court of giving the DENR, as well as the other government agencies, time frames within which we are to implement our respective tasks in cleaning up the Manila Bay,” Paje said during a sail of Manila Bay on Friday (March 11, 2011) with five Supreme Court justices led by Chief Justice Renato Corona.

The other justices who joined the Manila Bay inspection tour were Justice Presbitero J. Velasco Jr, Justice Lucas P. Bersamin, Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo and Justice Jose P. Perez.

The sail, which began at the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) wharf in South Harbor in Manila aboard MV EDSA II, provided the SC justices an ocular assessment of on-going efforts in the historic bay’s rehabilitation and restoration. “The overall state of Manila Bay has deteriorated since the issuance of the mandamus, but there are certain areas that have actually shown a little improvement. The deadlines set by the SC will hopefully lead to the bay’s rehabilitation at the soonest possible time,” Paje said.

The SC on February 15, 2011 rendered a decision based on recommendations by the Manila Bay Advisory Committee (MBAC) led by SC Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr., to set time frames for the agencies to perform their tasks as ordered in a “writ of continuing mandamus” for the DENR and 10 other government agencies to clean up Manila Bay, known worldwide for its beautiful sunset. The mandamus was issued in December 2008 as a result of a complaint filed by “concerned residents of Manila Bay” on the alleged inaction of government to improve the bay’s condition.

During the meeting, Paje directed Manila Bay Coordinating Office (MBCO) Executive Director Noel Gaerlan to submit to the SC the updated Operational Plan for Manila Bay Coastal Strategy (OPMBCS) even before the June 30, 2011 deadline set by the SC. The plan is also to include template forms or lists for an environmental compliance audit as suggested by environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa.

Oposa had presented “practical ways” to clean up the bay, suggesting that issues be divided into three: solid waste management, liquid waste management, and informal settlers. He also proposed that barangays be audited according to their compliance to the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, evaluating them with a “point system” for segregation, collection, existence of materials recovery facilities, dumpsites, and the like.

Earlier during the meeting, MBCO’s Gaerlan presented the results of water quality monitoring for year 2010, indicating the amounts of fecal and total coliform as counted in 14 monitoring stations set up along bathing beaches around the bay. These stations are located in the following bathing areas: two stations each at Noveleta, Tanza and Naic, all in Cavite; Limay and Mariveles in Bataan; and one each at the Navotas Fishport, Luneta Park, Bacoor and Rosario, Cavite.

Of these 14, only six passed the class SB criteria for fecal coliform, namely two stations in Noveleta, two in Tanza, one each in Mariveles and Limay. Meanwhile, nine yielded passing marks for total coliform, namely two in Noveleta, two in Naic, one in Cavite, and all four in Bataan.

Gaerlan also reported that the Parañaque River has reached a critical level of 0.345 mg/L level of dissolved oxygen (DO), far below the ideal of above 5mg/L. DO is the amount of oxygen necessary for marine life to survive.

On the other hand, the Ylangylang River in Cavite registered high amounts of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), which at 89.75 mg/L is way above the required 5mg/L. BOD is the measure of oxygen used by bacteria to decompose organic waste in the higher supply. A high amount of BOD means bacteria robs other aquatic organisms of oxygen supply they need to live.

 The government’s National Greening Program (NGP) is on the right track in promoting the role of women and achieving the country’s millennium development goal of ensuring sustainable development.

This was announced by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Ramon J. P. Paje through a message delivered by his chief of staff Asst. Secretary Analiza Teh as the agency kicked off its celebration of March as National Women’s Month.

Executive Order (EO) No. 26 signed by Pres. Aquino declared the NGP as a national priority program with the goal of planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares for the period 2011-2016.

“The objective of the EO is to pursue sustainable development for poverty reduction, food security, biodiversity conservation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Without discriminating the men, various studies indicate that women are mostly affected by disasters, food scarcity and environmental degradation,” said Paje.

Paje said that the successful implementation of the NGP will be the agency’s major contribution to the fulfillment of this year’s theme for National Women’s Month, “Magna Carta of Women, Philippine CEDAW: In support of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)”. Further, monitoring of the agency’s accomplishments would consider sex-disaggregated data to determine the number of female beneficiaries or participants in the program.

According to him, the DENR has undertaken concrete initiatives in response to the three-fold challenge of gender and development (GAD), namely, the country’s commitment to the international Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women or CEDAW; compliance to Republic Act (RA) 9710 or the Magna Carta of Women; and MDG number 7, ensuring environmental sustainability.

He cited that the DENR has long been issuing tenurial instruments such as forest stewardship and land patents to female beneficiaries. He has also instructed the agency’s land management sector to include gender perspectives in the implementation of, and information campaign for, Republic Act 10023 or the Residential Free Patent Act.

For DENR employees, Paje said GAD-related initiatives include the establishment of a day care center for the employees’ children; membership of GAD representatives in various agency committees; issuance of implementing rules and regulations on gender-related laws such as Republic Act No. 7877 or the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995; and implementation of flexi-time, maternity and paternity leaves per Civil Service Commission rules.