Press Releases

 

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed high hopes that the Philippines will be joined by its Southeast Asian neighbors in the efforts to conserve and protect the region’s rich biodiversity, during the local celebration of ASEAN Week.

"We hope that our neighbors in the ASEAN region would join us in protecting our diverse flora and fauna to mark this week-long event with an environmental purpose and initiative," Cimatu said.

The annual celebration of the ASEAN Month and ASEAN Week is pursuant to Proclamation No. 282 signed by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on July 31, 2017.

It amended Proclamation No. 1008, which was signed in 1997, to declare August of every year as ASEAN Month and the dates ‪August 7 to 13 as ASEAN Week.‬‬‬‬

It also encourages all government agencies "to initiate and implement programs and activities to help generate awareness and public support in promoting the observance of ASEAN Month."

Cimatu cited that the 31st Meeting of the ASEAN Working Group on Nature Conservation and Biodiversity (AWGNCB) held on July 8-9, 2021, "has been a productive preparation for the celebration of ASEAN Week this August and a crucial step towards tackling concerns involving biodiversity conservation efforts."

"We at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are delighted with the outcome of the meeting and hope that the agreements will materialize into fruitful ventures to save our treasured species," Cimatu pointed out.

Serving as a platform to promote biodiversity conservation among the ASEAN member-states, the meeting tackled the implementation of the AWGNCB Action Plan, Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, mainstreaming of biodiversity and the Joint ASEAN Statement to the 15th Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), among others.

DENR Undersecretary for Special Concerns and concurrent Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Edilberto Leonardo, together with the Philippine delegation, hosted the meeting attended by fellow ASEAN member states composed of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and dialogue partners from various development organizations also joined the meeting.

"This meeting highlights a level of cooperation and synergy undampened by the restriction posed by COVID-19," said Leonardo, who also served as the chair for the AWGNCB meeting.

The Philippine delegation, represented by officials from the BMB, raised interventions and statements of support on various ASEAN activities.

In particular, the Philippine delegation put forward four statements of support on ASEAN initiatives and activities. These include pushing to build on the Bangkok Declaration to Combat Marine Debris, and promoting the mainstreaming of biodiversity into various development processes in the region, which was in the draft text of the ASEAN Joint Statement to the 15th meeting of the CBD Conference of Parties.

"Emphasizing the increasing importance for mainstreaming biodiversity, strong cohesive efforts among member-states and support from the ACB and other development partners are needed," Leonardo pointed out.

He added: “We can address the increasing problem on biodiversity. Now is the time for us to deal with hard truths and build back better under a new normal.” ###

Stressing that solid waste management is everyone's responsibility, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu reminded the public to do their share in helping the government rehabilitate Manila Bay.

The DENR chief issued the statement after tons of trash were washed ashore on Manila Bay due to incessant rains brought by the enhanced southwest monsoon or "habagat."

"As the primary government agency responsible for the environment, we would like to remind all Filipinos that it is not solely the duty of the DENR to be the guardian of the country’s environment and vast natural resources," Cimatu said.

He added: “We are all in this together. As stewards of nature, we must ensure that wastes are properly managed and disposed of.”

The agency’s solid waste management program is one of Cimatu’s priority programs when he assumed office in 2017.

Data from the DENR-National Capital Region West Field Office showed that 12,187 sacks of solid waste were collected from the Baywalk area on July 16-29 after continuous rains inundated parts of Metro Manila and several Luzon areas.

Among the garbage that was collected were single-use plastic cups, plastic bottles, and personal items, such as bags, shoes, slippers, and clothes.

Health care wastes, bamboo poles and wooden planks, water hyacinths, and dead animals were also retrieved.

According to DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units (LGUs) Concerns Benny D. Antiporda, the DENR will “tightly and closely monitor the solid waste management operations of all local government units (LGUs) especially those that pollute waterways that flow to Manila Bay.”

"Kaya ang mga LGUs, wag silang magpaka-kampante sa mga nakasanayan na nila. We have our eyes, ears and nose on you,” Antiporda said.

Antiporda said all LGUs should have "an honest-to-goodness residual waste disposal system or face the penalties imposed by Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000."

Section 37 of RA 9003 "prohibits the use of open dumpsites for solid waste."

"Hopefully, more Filipinos will realize that we at the DENR are promoting behavioral change and responsibility because the national government through the DENR cannot do this alone," Antiporda said. ###

 

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) led the dismantling of various illegal mining equipment during a series of operations conducted against small-scale mining activities in Quezon town, Nueva Vizcaya province from July 27 to 29.

The joint operations which were carried out by MGB-Region 2, DENR Region 2, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office-Nueva Vizcaya, Community Environment and Natural Resources Office-Aritao, National Bureau of Investigation-Region 2, Philippine National Police, and Armed Forces of the Philippines, in coordination with FCF Minerals Corporation, cracked down on ball mills, shafting, diesel engines, pulleys, and other equipment used in illegal small-scale mining activities at Barangay Runruno.

"In the case of illegal small-scale mining, miners tend to dig and drill with no proper control on extractive operations. These unregulated mining activities pose dangers to the environment, and even to human lives," said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

MGB-Region 2 Director Mario A. Ancheta said the absence of documents, permits, or authority in the conduct of mining operations and the transport of minerals/mineral products and by-products will be considered as prima facie evidence of illegal mining.

"This shall cause the seizure/confiscation of the minerals/mineral products and by-products and the tools, conveyances, and equipment used in the commission of the offense in favor of the government," Ancheta pointed out.

Prior to the operation, MGB-Region 2 directed an investigation of the ongoing small-scale mining operations within the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) contract area of mining firm FCF Minerals Corporation.

MGB said that the said firm has not yet utilized or developed the said area.

Given the location, Ancheta pointed out that the mining area cannot be declared as a "Minahang Bayan" site.

He added that despite constant dialogues and warnings, the small-scale miners, who were identified to be illegal settlers, continued to defy the MGB's order to vacate and leave the area.

The MGB-Region 2 served cease-and-desist orders against the illegal mining activities last July 7 to 9.

"I have previously proposed to these illegal miners to look for other areas that can be applied for as Minahang Bayan since this area is prohibited. However, they continue to extract the area," Ancheta said.

Charges will be filed against the miners for violation of Republic Act (RA) 7942 or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and RA 7076 or the People’s Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991.

The implementing rules and regulations of RA 7076 state that: "No small-scale mining shall be undertaken outside a Minahang Bayan and that no entity shall engage in small-scale mining without a small-scale mining contract."

MGB-Region 2 has been monitoring the activities in the area since a landslide occurred on Nov. 13, 2020. It has previously recommended to the local government of Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya to relocate the illegal settlers. ###

 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and Task Force Build Back Better (TF BBB) chairperson Roy A. Cimatu said that with the completion of the first phase of dredging operations in Marikina City, the TF BBB is now ready to commence the second phase of the project in Pasig City.

“The challenge is to double the effort in Phase 2 of the project, involving the downstream portion of Marikina River in Pasig City, given the bigger area that needs to be cleared of debris and other obstruction,” the DENR chief pointed out.

"Maluwag na nga dito sa Marikina, pero pagdating sa baba, kumikipot ito up to 45 meters which is why the challenge is to continue dredging downstream," Cimatu said, noting the target is to have Phase 2 completed within the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Phase 2 of the project covers the clearing of untitled and reclaimed areas in Barangay Santolan in Pasig City covering 12,830 square meters.

The TF BBB is also studying the inclusion of another 34,560 square meters covering the stretch from Ortigas Avenue to Bridgetowne in Barangay Rosario (26,417 square meters) and Barangay Ugong (8,143 square meters).

Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Undersecretary for Regional Operations in Visayas, NCR and Region IV-B Roberto Bernardo said all its fleet of equipment and human power deployed for Phase 1 will be also be deployed for Phase 2 including an additional brand-new amphibious excavator, which is due for procurement and delivery in August and deployment for Phase 2 either in September or October.

For Phase 1, the DPWH deployed 17 pieces of equipment consisting of one amphibious excavator, one loader, two backhoes, one boom truck, and 12 dump trucks.

Bernardo added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines deployed a backhoe and loader, including five dump trucks, and seven operators-drivers to help in the dredging efforts.

The first phase of the Marikina River restoration and dredging project in Marikina City included the removal of chokepoints at the Olandes Sewage Treatment Plant, BF City, Riverbanks, and SM Marikina.

The DPWH reported that a total of 67,425 cubic meters — equivalent to 27 Olympic-size swimming pools — have been dredged from three sites covering a total of 6,936 square meters.

It also recovered some 20 to 30 meters of the river’s width, resulting in its widening from 70 meters up to 90-100 meters and an additional depth of two meters.

Cimatu also noted that through the DENR’s riverbank stabilization and watershed restoration efforts within the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), at least 16,728 bamboo trees have been raised, planted, and maintained in river easements covering 82 hectares. This was done with the 11 peoples’ organizations composed of cultural communities located inside UMRBPL

Ninety (90) units of check dams designed to reduce riverbank erosion have been desilted while a total of 1,750 meters along tributaries were likewise planted with 8,552 fruit-bearing trees and bamboo culms along tributaries of the Marikina River.

Meanwhile, Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro vowed to preserve the gains from the project through the maintenance of the river’s width and the establishment of a bamboo tree nursery for the propagation and planting of different species of bamboo along the river as part of the city government's river restoration program.

He also disclosed that Marikina City is now working to have untitled lands along the riverbanks classified as flood-prone areas to prevent encroachments and keep them as natural pathways of floodwaters.

The DENR, through its Land Management Bureau, has initially identified four untitled areas along the riverbank covering 3,762 square meters. ###

 

The government's "build back better" drive continues with the commencement of the second phase of dredging operations in the portion of the Marikina River that passes through Barangay Santolan in Pasig City.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and Task Force Build Back Better (TF BBB) chair Roy A. Cimatu said the second phase of the river dredging project aims to fully improve Marikina River's water flow and mitigate the risk of floods during extreme weather events.

"With the dredging operations, we can expect the water to subside faster should another flooding occur. The continuous dredging and widening of the river will help minimize flooding," Cimatu said during the launching ceremony on July 21.

"Once Phase 2 of this project is completed, I am confident that waterways will be restored to their original width and legal easements will be recovered resulting in safer and more resilient communities against the effects of climate change," he added.

The DENR chief also assured that no households in the Pasig City portion of Marikina River will be affected by the dredging operations.

"During our meeting with Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, it was made clear that other than the multi-purpose building under the Ortigas bridge, no houses will be affected by the project,” said Cimatu.

He added that TF BBB will be meeting with the local government of Quezon City to discuss the possible impact of the dredging activities on the informal settler families residing within the dredging area, and the resettlement process for those who will be affected by the operations.

Cimatu also acknowledged Department of Public Works and Highways Secretary and TF BBB co-chair Mark A. Villar for providing the dredging equipment for Marikina River and other priority areas.

He expressed confidence that the government will be able to purchase additional equipment if the operations of the TF BBB will be successful as "that is where (Task Force) Build Back Better is headed to."

Cimatu likewise recognized the efforts of the concerned local governments adding that there are operations that need the involvement of the national government.

"While we laud the efforts of LGUs to place their own adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce and manage disaster risk within their areas of jurisdiction, there are certain tasks that need a higher level of intervention," Cimatu said.

"This will ensure sustainability and integration of different dredging activities that are part of the approved rehabilitation and recovery efforts in flood-prone areas," he added.

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino R. Teodoro, himself, said the recently concluded dredging operations in the Olandes portion of Marikina River resulted in faster water flow.

"Mayor Teodoro explained the effect of what we have done in Marikina River. He said that the velocity of water in the river is faster now than before, which means the flooding in Marikina will subside faster," Cimatu said.

Under Executive Order 120 issued by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in November 2020, the TF BBB will oversee post-typhoon rehabilitation efforts in areas ravaged by typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, namely Cagayan River, Bicol River and Marikina River. ###