Press Releases

The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) is on track to meet all its targets by the time its term ends in May 2021, according to Secretary Roy A. Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“The BIATF is capping 2020 on a high note, setting us off in 2021 with solid confidence that we will hit our targets within the remaining five months ahead of us,” said Cimatu, who chairs the BIATF, which President Rodrigo Duterte created more than two years ago to supervise and manage Boracay’s rehabilitation.

In its year-end report, the BIATF’s implementing arm, the Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation Management Group (BIARMG), revealed that the number of structures violating the easement rules in Boracay is now down to only 342, representing 21 percent or all 1,569 illegal structures on the island.

Of the 1,569 structures, 1,230 were inside the 12-meter road easement, while 339 establishments were inside the 25+5-meter beach easement limit.

Majority or 943 of these structures are commercial establishments with 212 violating the 25+5-meter easement rule and 731 within the 12-meter easement. This was followed by residential houses at 456 (117 and 339 in 25+5-meter and 12-meter easements, respectively).

In terms of compliance to the easement rule, 978 structures or 79 percent are now compliant with the 12-meter road easement rule.

For the 25+5-meter beach easement limit, 249 structures are now compliant or 73 percent. Only 90 establishments are non-compliant or 27 percent.

BIARMG General Manager Natividad Bernardino said the Boracay rehabilitation was successful in terms of compliance by hotels and other commercial establishments.

“The improved water quality of Boracay has been primarily the result of the enforcement of the 25+5-meter shoreline easement rule,” Bernardino said.

She also noted that the average coliform level at the island’s main tourism beach called “White Beach” is now down to 10 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml).

Per DENR Administrative Order No. 34, Series of 1990, the safe quality standard for Class SB water, which is suitable for seawater recreational activities like swimming and skin diving, is 100 MPN/100 ml.

 

The 2020 BIARMG report likewise cited the completion of Phases 1 and 2 circumferential road improvements covering up to 8.75 kilometers of paved and widened road.

Bernardino added that the relocation of some 113 illegal structures in Wetland No. 6 paved the way for its full rehabilitation. The 31 Tumandok families who previously occupied the wetland have transferred to lands covered by Certificates of Landownership Ownership Award issued to them by the Department of Agrarian Reform in March 2020.

“The indigenous peoples and natives of Boracay were awarded land through the government’s Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program as a strategy to relocate them from ‘No Build Zones’ in wetlands and forestlands,” she explained.

This year, the DENR has filed 51 cases for illegal occupation of Boracay forestlands out of the 406 notices of violations issued for such offense. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through its Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB)—has remained proactive in promoting responsible mining and disaster preparedness amid the COVID-19 pandemic and powerful typhoons that hit the country during last quarter of 2020.

“We have faced a lot of challenges this year, especially during the last quarter. A series of typhoons hit parts of our country triggering massive flooding and lahar flow that led to the loss of life and damage to property and natural resources,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said.

He added: “However, we in the Department, together with MGB and all the concerned agencies were proactive in finding solutions to these problems. We assure you that we will continue to exert the needed effort to prevent and mitigate natural disasters.”

During the year, MGB investigated mining and quarry activities within hazard-prone areas and closed down illegal mining operations in the country during the recent months.

The bureau coordinated with national government agencies and concerned local government units to look into and address the destruction in flood- and landslide-prone areas to prevent disasters from happening again.

Separate investigations were conducted in Marikina City and the provinces of Albay and Rizal to evaluate whether mining and quarry activities contributed to massive flooding during the typhoons.

Cimatu also said that prior to these developments, the DENR has already been monitoring the contracts/permits of mining companies and operators to ensure compliance to mining laws, rules, and regulations.

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, MGB conducted virtual audit and monitoring of the mining activities based on submitted reports and real-time photos/videos from its regional offices.

A total of 680 mining contracts/permits either under exploration, development, utilization/production and including those under rehabilitation period were monitored/audited for compliance to terms and conditions.

The MGB also strengthened the promotion of a responsible and sustainable mining industry to provide direct and indirect employment, and to generate revenues through mining project developments. This initiative aims to counter the effects of the pandemic to revenue, collection of taxes, employment, social development in impact communities, environmental protection, and allied industries.

Before the onset of the typhoons, MGB has already updated its geo-hazard maps with a scale of 1:10,000, and conducted vulnerability and risk assessments (VRA) for 214 cities and municipalities across the country.

Assessments on ground subsidence for 22 cities and municipalities were also administered by the bureau. Around 101 local governments were assessed of their groundwater resources and vulnerability.

Moreover, the MGB has directed its regional offices to allow mining companies to realign the unutilized funds from the Social Development and Management Program (SDMP) to assist host and neighboring communities affected by COVID-19.

As of August 7, 2020, around P380 million was used to procure personal protective equipment, medical supplies, goods, and grocery supplies for the beneficiaries. A total of 297,491 medical frontliners/individuals and 1,099,090 families benefited from the SDMP realignment.

In order to aid in the recovery of the country’s economy post-COVID-19, the mining contractors/permit holders were instructed to establish an additional bamboo plantation equivalent to 10 percent of their declared final mining area, bringing the total target of bamboo plantations to at least 20 percent.

Cimatu has previously directed the mining companies to establish and maintain bamboo plantation equivalent to 10 percent of their mined-out areas. ###

 

As 2020 comes to a close, the Land Management Bureau (LMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) reported the major accomplishments in the land sector amid the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are indeed happy with the achievements of LMB. These show that we have provided many Filipinos with security of land tenure, which is essential to build shelter and create livelihood,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

From 2019 to October 2020, the DENR regional field offices issued a total of 30,456 agricultural free patents covering around 20,144.98 hectares across 14 regions in the country, topping its original target by 4.25 percent.

According to LMB Director Emelyne V. Talabis, the increase was due to the December 31, 2020 deadline on the filing of applications pursuant to Republic Act 9176, as well as the increased use of the Land Administration Management System Philippines (LAMS), which fast tracked the approval of land surveys.

At the same time, the regions also issued 56,265 residential free patents covering around 1,408.46 hectares across 16 regions in the country.

Such issuances of free patents, which include beneficiaries of the Handog Titulo Program, was in support of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s socioeconomic agenda of ensuring security of land tenure to encourage investments and to address bottlenecks in land management and titling agencies.

Modernization initiatives of LAMS, such as the migration of land records in the LAMS database, pilot testing of the submission of e-survey returns and online access to survey records, digital cadastral database cleansing, and projection of Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title or Certificate of Ancestral Land Title have been implemented in several cities and regions across the country.

In partnership with the Land Registration Authority (LRA), a Joint Memorandum Circular has also been crafted to implement information sharing between LMB’s LAMS and LRA’s Philippine Land Registration and Information System or PHILARIS. This will link the land information database managed by both agencies and significantly reduce turnaround time in the processing of land transactions.

This year, the regional offices have also formulated the Foreshore Management and Development Plans for the provinces of La Union, Camarines Sur, Leyte, Eastern Samar, Camiguin and Davao Oriental, and the city of Iloilo.

Each plan contains a broad analysis of the conditions and issues covering foreshore lands, as well as recommendations on the appropriate foreshore management scheme to be adopted for each of the said provinces and city.

Upon the recommendation of LMB and DENR-Region 13, Secretary Cimatu, through the Undersecretary for Field Operations, Enforcement and Muslim Affairs Jim Sampulna lifted the titling suspension in Siargao on Nov. 18, 2019. This year, the suspension was lifted in South Cotabato and Sarangani on January 29, Panglao, Bohol on February 28, and Palawan on March 2.

Rapid Land Tenure Assessment (RLTA) was also conducted by the regional offices in support of a planned nationwide acceleration of titling. RLTA is a barangay profiling activity designed to determine how much titling work is still needed to be done in a local government unit.

The LMB also intensified public awareness on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanism through the conduct of “ADR on Wheels” in selected cities, as well as its online talk show “Talakayang Panlupa” to encourage parties to settle their dispute amicably.

“The resilience that we have developed because of the pandemic all the more drives us to continue to work on our commitment to provide policy direction and technical support on land management and administration for 2021,” said Talabis.###

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has not dampened government efforts to clean up Manila Bay as shown by the sizable gains achieved this year by the inter-agency task force led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“Our work continues despite the limitations in mobilizing people, especially for our clean-up, monitoring and enforcement activities,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who chairs the Manila Bay Task Force in charge of restoring the historic water body.

Cimatu said the solar-powered sewage treatment plant (STP) inaugurated by the task force in July was among its significant accomplishments for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

The STP is capable of treating 500,000 liters of wastewater per day from three drainage outfalls—Padre Faura, Remedios and Estero de San Antonio Abad.

Cimatu said that among the priority areas for rehabilitation, a significant decrease in fecal coliform was recorded in three sites, namely, the Baywalk area, Estero de San Antonio Abad and Baseco Beach.

In the Baywalk, fecal coliform is now down to 2,211,833 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml), compared to 5,666,213 MPN/100ml in 2019.

The coliform level in Estero de San Antonio Abad also went down from 43,881,048 MPN/100ml to 19,066,767 MPN/100ml, and Baseco Beach from 1,700,000 MPN/100ml in 2019 to 341,225 MPN/100ml.

Aside from these priority areas, cleanup activities were also regularly conducted in creeks, esteros and river systems. An average 60 metric tons of garbage were collected daily for a total of 24,471.30 metric tons from 2019.

In partnership with the Department of Public Works and Highways, dredging and desilting operations were also conducted. In the Baywalk area, a total of 210,549 cubic meters (m3) of silts and submerged garbage were dredged.

Meanwhile, a total of 551,768.72 m3 of dredged materials were collected from the esteros, creeks and rivers. These include esteros in eight priority river systems: San Juan River, Pasig River, Tullahan-Tinajeros River, Navotas-Malabon River, Parañaque River, Las Piñas-Zapote River, Taguig-Pateros River, and Marikina River.

Cimatu said the task force also introduced geo-engineering interventions in the bay, such as the installation of trash booms and silt curtains.

“We are optimistic that these measures will really help clean the waters of Manila Bay,” Cimatu said.

He added: “However, as I repeatedly stressed, this is an effort not only of the government but of every Filipino. We must work hand in hand.”

In Baseco, a circumferential sewerage interceptor was constructed and communal septic tanks were installed to minimize the direct discharge of untreated wastewater to the bay.

Just recently, Project Kubeta Ko was launched at Parola Compound in Tondo, Manila by the city government of Manila, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Maynilad Water Services, Inc., Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System, and the DENR.

The project aims to minimize open defecation in Manila Bay by informal settler families (ISFs) in Manila. It adopted a portable, container-based toilet solution to provide dignified temporary sanitation facilities for ISFs prior to relocation.

The cleanup and rehabilitation of Manila Bay is guided by the Operational Plan for the Manila Bay Coastal Strategy which covers the period 2017-2022, and by Administrative Order No. 16 issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in 2019.

Both outline the specific actions, programs and projects to comply with the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court to restore Manila Bay waters to Class SB, or intended for recreational activities like swimming and bathing.

The implementation of the plan and the President’s directive include the monitoring of establishments for pollution and compliance to effluent standards, and the monitoring of water quality in key river mouths, outfalls, and bathing beaches in the Manila Bay region.

In September, the DENR also embarked on the beach nourishment project with the use of dolomite to rehabilitate and protect the coastal resources in the area, as well as to prevent coastal flooding, erosion, and pollution. The estimated cost of the entire project is P389 million, around P28 million of which is allotted for the dolomite overlay. ###

 

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) thru its Task Force Tayo ang Kalikasan, has partnered with the Rotary Club to install a trash trap in Quezon City for cleaner esteros.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns and Supervising Undersecretary for Task Force Tayo Ang Kalikasan Benny D. Antiporda said that the trash trap will serve as “defense trap” for garbage that comes from other barangays.

“We cannot solve the problem in Manila Bay if we cannot solve the problem in your barangay,” Antiporda said during the program held on December 23, 2020 at the Multi-Purpose Court of Barangay Quirino 2-A.

The 19-foot trash trap, made of fish net and recycled plastic bottles, was installed in Buaya Creek in Barangay Quirino 2-A.

According to Antiporda, Rotary Club districts have greatly contributed in environment protection through the distribution of trash traps for creeks in different areas, some of which are included in the DENR’s Enhanced Adopt-An-Estero Waterbody Project.

Antiporda encouraged the community led by its chair Noel Agdeppa to participate not only in tree planting activities but also in caring for the trees to ensure their growth.

More than 80 trash traps will be installed in identified creeks in Quezon City. One was installed in Barangay Novaliches Proper on September 21, 2019.

Officials who joined the activity were Task Force Tayo ang Kalikasan Executive Director and Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service Assistant Director Maria Matilda A. Gaddi; Rene Madarang of Rotary District International 3780, former EMB Regional Director Engineer Roberto Sheen and of Rotary Club of Diliman Silangan, and Chi Armenta of Rotary Club of Cubao.

Barangay Novaliches Proper Kagawad Enrique Añonuevo, Kagawad Elena Quinto, barangay officials from Barangay Quirino 2-A, and estero rangers also attended the event.

“Ikaw, Ako, Tayo ang Kalikasan,” said Antiporda “that’s why we need to take care of our environment.” ###