Press Releases

In celebration of the National Volunteer Month, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through its Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service (SCIS)—has recognized 49 organizations for their unwavering support to the agency and its causes.

DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns and SCIS Supervising Undersecretary Benny D. Antiporda said the DENR is “fortunate to enjoy widespread support for many of its programs, projects, and activities.”

“Indeed, we have seen a spectacular turnout of volunteers in our coastal and river cleanups, tree planting, and other mobilization activities,” Antiporda said during the awarding ceremony held via Zoom last December 15.

According to Antiporda, this is because the institution “has earned the people’s trust, and the undertakings are responsive to the people’s needs and aspirations.”

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Antiporda said the DENR will continue to fulfill its mandate of protecting the country’s environment and natural resources and to recognize its loyal partners for “the credit must be shared with these organizations.”

Antiporda also explained why the DENR is “fiercely defending its projects against fault-finders,” saying these are “not by the DENR alone, but by its diverse stakeholders.”

During the event, nine DENR partner-organizations received special awards. For this year, the agency handed out five sets of special awards. Gawad Mapamaraan was given to the Junior Chamber International Manila, Rotary Club of Makati- Rockwell, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, National Bicycle Organization, and UST - College of Science and Simbahayan.

The Masigasig Award was conferred to Landbank of the Philippines (LBP) Corporate Affairs Specialist Arnold Aldaba for his efforts to connect the DENR to the bank’s environmental programs.

The Gawad Kamanggagawa was awarded to the Employees Compensation Commission, and the Gawad Kawanggawa sa Kalikasan to the HSBC Electronic Data Processing, Philippines. Inc. and its volunteers.

The Kamagong Award was given to the Land Bank of the Philippines for the implementation of its volunteer programs supporting the protection and rehabilitation of watersheds and uplifting the livelihood of its partner community organizations.

 

Equivalent to the Hall of Fame, this award is named after the kamagong (Diospyros blancoi), a tree species endemic to the Philippines that displays traits which best describe the awardees “as resilient, adaptable, relevant and important.”

The National Volunteer Month is celebrated every December pursuant to Proclamation No. 55 series of 1998, which enjoins all departments, agencies and instrumentalities of the national government units, the private sector and the public at large to actively participate and support the activities for the month-long celebration. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has scored yet another legal victory, this time against a man who was caught selling illegally harvested stalactites and stalagmites in 2016.

A Cavite court has rendered a guilty verdict in the trial of Joselito Laygan, who was accused of gathering and selling cave resources without authority from the DENR. Laygan was sentenced to pay the fine of P300,000.

This new development came just a week after the DENR reported the conviction of a wildlife trader, who was behind the illegal shipment of over 700 pieces of live tarantulas intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in 2019.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the twin victories were “an affirmation of the agency’s commitment to hold illegal wildlife traders accountable for their crimes against the Filipino people and the environment.”

“This decision comes at an opportune time when culprits are taking advantage of the challenges in travel and mobility of our environmental law enforcers,” he added.

“We want to show these environmental criminals how stringent the law is even in the middle of this crisis.”

In a five-page decision penned by Judge Mary Rocelyn Lim-Guillano and promulgated last December 10, the Bacoor City Municipal Trial Court found Laygan guilty of violating Section 7 of Republic Act 9072, or the National Caves and Cave Resources Management and Protection Act.

Such provision states that “gathering, collecting, possessing, consuming, selling, bartering or exchanging or offering for sale without authority for any cave resource is prohibited.”

Laygan was caught in the act of selling cave resources without the necessary permits during an entrapment operation conducted by the Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife or Task Force POGI in February 2016.

Task Force POGI is a composite team of wildlife enforcers from various agencies, including the Biodiversity Management Bureau, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police.

As penalty, Lagyan was ordered to pay Php300,000 with an interest rate of six percent per annum from the date of the finality of the decision until it is fully paid.

 

At the same time, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Cavite was directed to coordinate with the court for the turnover of the cave resources to the DENR Secretary for proper disposition.

Last week, the DENR announced that the Pasay City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 48 has convicted Jesse Camaro for illegally transporting 757 pieces of tarantula with an estimated value of P310,900 and customs duties and taxes amounting to P54,752.

Camaro was found guilty of violating RA 9147 or the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act and sentenced to six months imprisonment and fined P20,000. He was also fined P100,000 for violating RA 10863 or the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—through its Indigenous People’s Desk—extended assistance to the indigenous peoples (IPs) of Pampanga province to give them hope amid the ongoing pandemic.

Dubbed as “Sa Gitna ng Pandemya, Buhay at Kapaligiran ay Mahalaga,” the DENR held a gift-giving activity for some 150 Aeta families from Barangay Camias in Porac town. The activity was held at the Hacienda Gracia Resort and Hotel in Lubao, Pampanga, last December 10.

“As President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said, no one should be left behind. We heal as one,” said DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

He told the Aetas: “You deserve these gifts. We are simply giving them back to you.”

The IPs received groceries, vitamins, face masks, face shields, and alcohol. These were received on their behalf by the barangay leaders and elders in compliance with social distancing protocols and mass gathering limitations.

“The DENR counts IPs among its valued stakeholders because they are considered stewards of environmental protection,” said Antiporda.

For his part, Edwin Abuque of the Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives (IPMR) said: “It is important that we protect the forest and trees because these are our first line of defense against floods. They help protect those who reside at the foot of the mountains.”

Abuque also said that plants and trees have healing properties, which “spared IPs from COVID-19.”

Antiporda urged the Aetas to plant rice and cacao in the land they are occupying for them to have a source of income.

The DENR official said he was ready to provide them with agricultural machineries to help them in farming.

“Nurture your land. We will not give you fish to eat but we will teach you how to fish,” Antiporda said.

The Aetas said they were grateful for being chosen as beneficiaries and that help came in time for Christmas.

They committed to continue protecting the mountains which they consider their home. ###

The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) approved this month the solid waste management (SWM) plans of 57 local government units (LGUs) nationwide, bringing the total to 114 for the entire year.

Of the 57 approved SWM plans, 32 are from the cities/municipalities of Luzon, 18 from Mindanao, and seven from Visayas. Regions 1 and 3 had the highest number of approvals at 10 each.

This latest development is a “huge feat” in addressing the solid waste problems in the country, according to NSWMC Alternate Chair and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda.

“The approval of this new batch of 10-year SWM plans proves that we are on track in instilling responsibility and accountability among LGUs in managing solid waste,” Antiporda said.

“This will be a huge boost in our campaign to urge them to address the solid waste problem in their localities and to fully implement Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000,” he added.

RA 9003 mandates all LGUs—province, city or municipality—to prepare and submit their 10-year SWM plans, anchored on the national SWM framework, subject to approval by the NSWMC. The plan shall include their strategies to address SWM, information campaigns and incentive programs.

In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Antiporda said the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) has made possible the online submission and approval of SWM plans.

“The Commission was in consensus of the adjustment I suggested, which is to do the approval online,” Antiporda said.

He added that the EMB regional offices conduct the screening of applications for validation by the EMB central office, and approval by the NSWMC.

“Due to the pandemic, we cannot do face-to-face deliberations and approvals. We do it through teleconferencing,” Antiporda said.

According to Antiporda, the NSWMC requires the mayor or governor to present the plan live to assure that the officials are involved in its crafting. Otherwise, he said, it will not be endorsed.

“We want our local chief executives to be really involved in creating their SWM plan,” he pointed out. “When they are involved, they will identify the needs of their respective LGUs, what could be improved, and what could be done to help the community in terms of SWM.”

Antiporda said that while some SWM plans are still in the validation process, the LGU applicants could already start implementing them. He also encouraged those who have not submitted their plans to comply with the law. ###

 

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu wants the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to shift from reactive to preventive in its efforts to curb illegal logging by stopping criminals before they cut trees.

Cimatu said it’s high time for the agency to move away from the traditional model of forest protection operation, which has been “largely measured in terms of apprehended undocumented forest products, and not in terms of standing trees.”

“Ang trophy ay ‘yung nakatayong mga puno, hindi ‘yung mga putol na,” Cimatu said during the recent meeting of the Build Back Better Task Force in charge of the rehabilitation of areas ravaged by recent strong typhoons.

Cimatu, who c-chairs the task force, said the massive flooding that submerged parts of Cagayan Valley region, Rizal province and Marikina City during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses should serve as a “wake-up call” for DENR field offices to recognize their accomplishments in the confiscation of undocumented forest products “not as trophies” but as “manifestations of their failure” as DENR enforcement officers.

“The illegally-gathered forest products should actually be regarded as their (DENR field offices) failure to prevent these trees from being illegally cut,” Cimatu said, as he noted that illegal logging has been tagged as one of the reasons behind the devastating Ulysses floods.

Meanwhile, Cimatu tasked DENR Undersecretary for Special Concerns Bernardo Leonardo to create four special composite teams that would augment anti-illegal logging operations in Cagayan Valley, the Bicol Region and the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.

The environment chief said the creation of the augmentation teams in those areas is a strategic move on the part of the DENR to shift its orientation in forest protection operation more towards prevention by “going hard and swift” against the financiers and operators.

The order is pursuant to Executive Order 23, Series of 2011, which calls for the creation of anti-illegal logging task force from the national to the regional and provincial levels.

Each team is composed of representatives from the DENR, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of National Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine National Police.

Cimatu said the key to curbing illegal logging is to identify and penalize the financiers and operators, noting that only transporters and buyers in possession of undocumented forest products are oftentimes collared in illegal logging operations.

The DENR’s Environment Protection and Enforcement Task Force has reported that some 62,666 board feet of undocumented forest products have been apprehended between the months of June and October.

Most of the apprehended forest products were narra, red and white lauan, bagtikan and bita.

Five conveyances—consisting of two six-wheeler trucks, two closed vans and a motorcycle—were also seized during the period.

Cimatu had earlier said the DENR would not scale-down efforts to enforce forestry laws during the pandemic and its field officers would continue to patrol forests. ###