Press Releases

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna is forming a team of experts to conduct additional studies on the occurrence of algal blooms in the coastal waters of Boracay Island.

“I am still forming a team. I want the study conducted by the UP (University of the Philippines) Marine Science Institute (MSI) and the DENR. We will work together to make the report credible,” Sampulna said.

UP-MSI has been one of the DENR’s long-time partners in conducting research to protect the country’s marine ecology and biodiversity.

DENR conducted its study of Boracay Island in 2017 before the government launched its rehabilitation in 2018.

Research by the DENR-Region 6 (Western Visayas), where Sampulna served as regional executive director, found that untreated wastewater was causing algal blooms in Boracay. Soaps and detergents being flushed out to the sea have also been named as suspects behind the recurrence of green algae in the country’s top tourist destination.

The DENR chief is hoping to conduct another study with the help of UP-MSI to better understand the recurrence of algal blooms in Boracay’s waters despite lower coliform levels brought about by the ongoing rehabilitation of the island.

Sampulna assured that the water in Boracay is very clean, and said he is focused on completing the rehabilitation of Boracay Island, among other priority programs, before his term ends in June.

As of February 2022, the coliform level in Boracay’s front beach was measured at 11 most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100mL). This shows that the island’s waters meet the water quality standard suitable for swimming, skin diving, and other recreational activities.

The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force and Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group are continuously monitoring the water quality in Boracay, and are strictly enforcing environmental laws to protect the world-class island resort. ###

Department of Environment and Natural Resources Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna (right) instructs Internal Audit Service (IAS) Director Al O. Orolfo (in white polo shirt) and IAS personnel to examine the current duties and responsibilities of DENR employees nationwide if these are in line with their actual terms of reference. Sampulna wants them to go out of their workplaces, be aware of the situation on the ground and solve these. Orolfo assumed office on March 24. ###

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna emphasized the need for public engagement and cooperation to bolster the government’s environmental protection efforts.

“Look at our mandate: It says ‘to mobilize our citizenry.’ We should be leading the citizenry to help us in protecting our country’s vast natural resources and fulfill our mandate in serving the country,” Sampulna pointed out, following a meeting with the DENR Central Office’s Internal Audit Service (IAS) upon the installation of its newest director, Al Orolfo.

Sampulna will meet with various offices of the DENR to remind the officials and employees about the mandate of their respective offices.

He pointed out that the terms of reference (TOR) of any government worker are important so that “they know what they are working for.”

Sampulna said that knowing the TOR of workers not only in the DENR Central Office but also in the regional offices, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office, and Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, would save environment workers like forest rangers from imminent death and other forms of violence.

“With citizen participation, we are able to tap their assistance should there be any dangerous situation happening on the ground. These private individuals can report it immediately to the enforcement authorities,” he explained.

IAS, an office under the Office of the Secretary, advises the Environment chief on all matters relating to management control and operations audits; conducts management and operations audits of DENR functions, programs, projects, activities with outputs; and determines the degree of compliance with their mandate, policies, government regulations, established objectives, systems and procedures/processes and contractual obligations.

IAS is also mandated to review and appraise systems and procedures, organizational structures, asset management practices, financial and management records, reports and performance standards of the department proper, bureaus and regional offices.

It is also tasked to analyze and evaluate management deficiencies, assist the top management by recommending realistic courses of action, and perform such other related duties and responsibilities as may be assigned or delegated by the Secretary or as may be required by law.###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has partnered with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for the establishment of bamboo plantations in Bulacan as part of the National Greening Program (NGP).

Held with a ceremonial bamboo planting at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center on March 25, the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signified the partnership of the DENR and the DILG-Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) for the adoption of two NGP reforestation areas in the municipalities of Norzagaray and Doña Remedios Trinidad.

The agreement will implement the planting of bamboo and other forest and fruit-bearing species in the 25-hectare reforestation area at Brgy. San Lorenzo in Norzagaray and 25-hectare reforestation area at Brgy. Kalawakan in Doña Remedios Trinidad.

Moreover, the DENR will provide a tree plantation plan and technical assistance, while the DILG-BFP will spearhead the plantation, rehabilitation, maintenance, protection, conservation, and other related activities of the adopted plantation sites to sustain growth and survival of the planted seedlings for five years.

The MOA signing was led by DENR-Central Luzon Regional Executive Director Paquito T. Moreno Jr. and DILG-BFP Chief Director Louie S. Puracan.

In his keynote message read by DENR-Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service (SCIS) Director Khalil Sergio Bayam, Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna acknowledged the initial partnership of the two agencies.

“We take this as a noble act on the part of the DILG-BFP because we, at the DENR, could certainly look forward to more successful and sustained forest rehabilitation efforts in these areas,” Sampulna said.

Meanwhile, Puracan said the DILG-BFP initiated the partnership not only for environmental protection but also to empower and provide livelihood to the local community and indigenous peoples living around the sites, as well as, for their own BFP firefighters given its “limitless potentials.”

He estimated around 40,000 BFP personnel will plant at least 10 bamboo seedlings, equating to 400,000 bamboo seedlings.

Moreover, Moreno also highlighted the timeliness of the partnership, as the BFP will experience firsthand how to protect these sites during summer when forest fires are rampant in the country.

“Forest fire is the biggest issue in terms of forest protection or established plantation protection. I hope that this MOA will spur a sustainable, broader partnership among our partners on forest protection and establishment,” said Moreno.

The MOA also allows the DILG-BFP to engage the services of the concerned community in implementing seedling production, planting, maintenance, and protection activities.

For these adopted areas, the DILG-BFP will also establish a forest fire station where basic firefighting equipment, supplies or vehicles are available for immediate response to forest fires.

DILG-BFP is also responsible for the establishment of fire lookout towers and provision of manpower.

In 2020, forest fires destroyed 7,830 hectares of NGP forestland areas that cost about P120 million. Of the total damaged area, 2,169 hectares were in Central Luzon.

In time with the Fire Prevention Month, the MOA signing was conducted in collaboration with the DENR Tayo Ang Kalikasan and SCIS. It is also supported by the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council.

Bamboo planting in various sites in Central Luzon and National Capital Region and coastal cleanup in Region 4A, in collaboration with the BFP, were also held in March. ###

 

 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna has ordered its field officers to review the existing forest fire prevention measures due to increasing incidents of man-made forest fires during the dry season.
 
“Forest fires are mostly fueled by human activities, making it imperative for us to recalibrate our response readiness and forest fire prediction alertness to pre-pandemic levels, which calls for tighter coordination with people’s organizations and family beneficiaries of the National Greening Program,” Sampulna said.
 
The move is part of the DENR’s continuous efforts to beef up its partnership with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), which has been conducting cluster trainings for DENR’s field personnel and implementers on the various aspects, technicalities, and principles of forest fire.
 
The BFP-trained DENR field personnel conduct forest fire preparedness and response trainings with DENR-engaged upland communities in its various programs, particularly those covered by the Expanded National Greening Program (ENGP) within their respective areas of responsibility.
 
“The field offices and communities are considered our frontliners in combating forest fires. The first line of defense against forest fire is to avoid starting a fire,” Sampulna said.
 
Man-made forest fire is usually an offshoot of kaingin or slash and burn farming, smoking of honeycombs to gather honey, cigarette butts, and other forms of activities that involve fire.
 
As national case trends of COVID-19 continue to decline, Sampulna said the easing of restrictions on movements of people in many parts of the country is also likely.
 
Based on the record of the DENR-Forest Management Bureau, forest fire incidents went down to 429 in 2020 from 1,282 in 2019.
 
DENR-FMB attributed the decreasing number of forest fire incidents to strict COVID lockdown measures in the country.
 
In 2020, 389 of the 429 outbreaks occurred in plantation sites under the ENGP, covering 7,830 hectares valued at P119.3 million.
 
Forty outbreaks occurred in natural forest, or forestlands populated with naturally growing indigenous trees, where some 1,278 hectares were affected with estimated damages of P4.27 million.
 
In 2019, however, 1,282 outbreaks were reported (1,205 in ENGP sites; 77 in natural forests), affecting 24,091 hectares (22,3723 hectares in ENGP sites; 1,719 hectares in natural forests), with damage cost of P417.9 million (P396 million in ENGP sites; P22.2 million in natural forests).
 
Meanwhile, BFP Director Louie Puracan underscored the pivotal role of DENR-partner communities in forest fire prevention and detection, saying the preparedness of DENR field officers and partner-communities “give them precious lead time to respond accordingly” to a forest fire outbreak.
 
“A protocol is already in place for the BFP, including other appropriate agencies such as the DENR and the concerned disaster risk and reduction management council to respond,” Puracan said.
 
The BFP  was created by virtue of Republic Act (RA) 6975, otherwise known as the DILG  Act of 1990, which mandates the agency to be responsible for the prevention and suppression of all destructive fires including  forest fires, among others. ###