Press Releases

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the sighting of a nesting sea turtle or pawikan in Zambales province is a testimony that the preservation of wildlife in the country must continue even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Even if we are faced with a difficult situation brought about by the threats of the disease, we must continue to strive to protect and preserve our endangered pawikan,” Cimatu said, adding that the sighting “proves that our efforts are not in vain.”

According to Cimatu, this incident was “enough to motivate the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to carry on with its task of protecting the environment during these uncertain times.”

The DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Olongapo City has received a report that sea turtle laying eggs were spotted at Aplaya Caarusipan Beach Resort in San Antonio town on the night of Nov. 28.

The CENRO immediately sent a team to conduct monitoring and inspection at the site.

Upon inspection, the team identified the sea turtle as an olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea) classified as an endangered species under DENR Administrative Order 2019-09 or the Updated National List of Threatened Philippine Fauna and their Categories.

Olongapo City’s CENR Officer Roger Encarnacion said the nesting site, which is just in front of the beach resort, was “safe from possible destruction from tide.”

“Thankfully, we do not need to relocate the nest to a safer place. But as a precautionary measure, we placed multiple fences made from nets to protect the eggs from possible predators,” Encarnacion said.

According to Encarnacion, the team will regularly monitor the turtle eggs to protect them from poachers and illegal wildlife traders. The CENRO will also conduct weekly information, education and communication (IEC) campaign such as seminars for the concerned local government unit staff and resort employees. #

The National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) jointly created an online short course on solid waste management (SWM), which is offered free to the public.

Pursuant to NSWMC Resolution No. 1424, Series of 2020, the commission’s technical working group and TESDA co-developed an e-learning material on the implementation of SWM in the workplace.

NSWMC is the primary agency tasked to implement the provisions of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000. The 17-member commission, which includes TESDA, is chaired by Secretary Roy A. Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

NSWMC Alternate Chair and DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny D. Antiporda said the digital learning material was designed to help people practice effective SWM “while we are in the new normal.”

“Through this online course, we make learning SWM possible even while we are in a pandemic,” Antiporda pointed out.

“Gaining knowledge about best SWM practices is vital at this time because household health care waste, such as disposable face masks and gloves, must be disposed of properly,” he added.

The online short course has two units—Introduction to Ecological Solid Waste Management and Practicing Solid Waste Management.

The first unit includes lectures on Philippine environmental laws and regulations, ecological SWM, as well as sources of waste.

The second unit consists of lessons on waste segregation, composting, recycling, managing residual waste with potential for recycling, and proper waste collection, treatment and disposal.

Learners will have to take a test at the end of the course to earn a certificate.

“For those who have some time to spare during this lockdown, we suggest this as a good way to spend your time productively and learn something new that can help the environment,” Antiporda said.

Enrollment in the course is free through the TESDA website, https://www.e-tesda.gov.ph/.###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called for intensified monitoring of tree-cutting activities in the same area where authorities recently discovered an illegal small-scale mining operation in Magpet town, Cotabato province.

“We cannot allow people to further destroy our forests especially when we know that flooding is among its direct consequences,” Cimatu pointed out. “Many Filipinos have suffered enough from the devastation of massive flooding because of forest denudation.”

Cimatu said the local government of Magpet should always be on the lookout for any illegal tree-cutting activity in its area of jurisdiction and coordinate such activity with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 12.

According to DENR-12 Regional Executive Director Felix Alicer, the tree-cutting activity was discovered during the Dec. 7 raid conducted in Barangay Don Panaca by operatives of the DENR, Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the local government of Cotabato, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The joint operation team then discovered an illegal small-scale mining operation in the area located some 10 kilometers away from the Mt. Apo Natural Park.

The mining site has not been declared a minahang bayan or a common area where small-scale miners are allowed to operate, prompting Cimatu to order its immediate closure.

The operation also led authorities to a five-hectare area that has been cleared of trees, around 300 meters away from the mining site.

The felled trees were identified as Ulian and Agoho. Some 15.296 cubic meters of log were also seen on the site.

Alicer said the “cleared area” is suspected to be intended for land conversion, particularly as a banana plantation, considering that the vicinity of Barangay Don Panaca is within a banana-growing town.

“What we are seeing here is that the threat to denudation is not so much on timber poaching but land conversion,” Alicer said. “A banana plantation has higher economic benefits.”

Alicer noted that barangay officials in the area are not empowered to apprehend the suspects. “The barangay chiefs around the area, however, have helped us monitor the site which prevented the suspected planned land conversion,” he said.

At the same time, Alicer said they have not yet been able to remove the logs from the site because it can only be reached after a two-and-a-half hour-walk through rugged terrain. #

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has won a legal case against the wildlife trader who was behind the illegal shipment of over 700 pieces of live tarantulas intercepted at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport last year.

In a seven-page decision dated Nov. 20, 2020, Judge Allan B. Ariola of 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 Php 54,752.

Camaro was found guilty of violating Republic Act (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.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the decision is “a testimony of DENR's effectiveness in bringing justice to the voiceless wildlife species.”

“The growing number of illegal trading cases prompts us to make environmental law enforcement as one of the priorities in the DENR,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu had earlier said the bill creating the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) under the DENR should be “a priority law to protect those in the frontlines of environmental protection efforts.”

The tarantulas were seized in April 2019 by the DENR's Philippine Operations Group on Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or Task Force POGI, in cooperation with the Bureau of Customs.

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.

According to Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force Executive Director Nilo Tamoria, the creation of EPEB would not only help save lives of the enforcers, but also “make DENR more effective in enforcing environmental laws.”

“If we have an enforcement bureau, we would have more flexibility and advantage in prosecuting the individuals who continue to violate our environmental laws,” Tamoria said.

Tamoria noted that the pandemic has not hindered the illegal wildlife traders to take advantage of the situation and continue their activities that are against the law.

“It gives us more impetus on running after environmental crimes with the support we are getting from the legislature, especially with the increasing number of legislators manifesting their co-sponsorship to the EPEB Bill” Tamoria said. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resource (DENR), through its regional office in CALABARZON, has formed four composite teams to investigate quarry operations in Rizal following a massive flooding that submerged some parts of the province and Marikina City during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses last month.

Equipped with aerial mapping drones, the investigating teams will zero in on the quarry operations within the Marikina River Basin, which residents blamed for the destructive Ulysses floods.

The composite teams were created in line with a memorandum order earlier issued by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Region 4A temporarily suspending at least 11 quarry and crushing plant operators within the river basin, which river system drains toward the Marikina River.

Each team is composed of representatives from the DENR-CALABARZON, and central and regional offices of the MGB, Environmental Management Bureau, and Biodiversity Management Bureau.

The suspension order was issued against 11 companies, five of them are holders of mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs) – Asensio-Pinzon Aggregates Corporation, San Rafael Development Corporation, Montalban Millex Aggregates Corporation, Hardrock Aggregates, Inc., and Rapid City Realty and Development Corporation.

Also suspended were six firms with existing mineral processing permits – Oxford Mines, Inc., Viba Aggregates & Marketing; Amiterra Aggregates Corporation, Dream Rock Resources Phils., Inc., Superior Aggregates, Inc., and ATN Holdings, Inc.

It provides that the suspension is effective until the composite teams have completed their assessments and submitted their reports on the cause of the extreme flooding.

DENR Undersecretary for Enforcement, Mining, and Muslim Affairs Jim Sampulna described the directive as “very timely” considering the situation in Marikina City and portions of Rizal province.

“The DENR has to reevaluate the operation of all mining companies in the area so we can find out whether they contributed to the massive flooding during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses,” Sampulna said.

According to MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano, the directive was in response to a call made by Rizal provincial government.

Governor Rebecca Ynares had earlier urged the DENR to suspend the mining permits of quarry operators in the province pending the conduct of a comprehensive probe as to whether quarrying contributed to the floods.

Moncano said the MGB has already instructed the holders of mining permits in the area to use their Development of Mining Technology and Geosciences Funds to conduct research on the sediment influx of quarry operation to determine its contribution to the siltation of Marikina River. ###