Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has expressed commitment to improve the efficiency of the application process for priority mining projects, particularly in two areas in Mindanao.
 
During a consultative meeting on mining concerns in Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula last May 5, DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna emphasized the importance of expediting the mining approval process in these regions amid the country’s continuing economic recovery from the pandemic.
 
“In our country’s quest for economic recovery from the long recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the mining industry may well play a significant role. Our country has around 9 million hectares of land with high mineral potential, out of its total land area of 30 million hectares,” Sampulna said in his speech read by Undersecretary for Legal, Administration, Human Resources and Legislative Affairs Ernesto D. Adobo Jr.
 
The meeting led by the DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) resulted in the identification of policy gaps and immediate actions from the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) on several concerns of mining applicants and permit holders in Zamboanga Peninsula and Northern Mindanao.
 
Among the agenda discussed were the fast-tracking of issuance of environmental compliance certificates through simplified geological study by the EMB and the creation of one-stop shop to streamline mining applications by the MGB.
 
The faster process on issuance of area and dredging clearances by the DPWH and issuance of the Certificate of Non-Overlap and clarificatory meetings with the NCIP were also discussed.
 
MGB Director Wilfredo O. Moncano said that the aim to address the challenges in filing applications, securing certifications, acquiring permits, and operations of mining projects were mostly considered by the concerned agencies.
 
“There were some issues that cannot be addressed because these were not under the jurisdiction of the MGB and the other national government agencies that were present. We can bring these issues to the proper agencies. But, for the other issues, I believe we were able to come up with solutions on most of the problems raised in the consultative meeting,” Moncano said.
The consultative meeting was also attended by Earth Tools and Development Corporation, identified by the MGB 10 as a mining priority project under Phase 1, which covers companies in the development and construction stage whose commercial operations are expected to become viable within six months.
 
Holcim Resources and Development Corporation and CEKAS Development Corporation, which are both mining priority projects under Phase 2, also took part in the meeting.
 
Companies under Phase 2 are those in the process of filing for declaration of mining projects’ feasibility, including those in the advanced exploration stage.
 
Other issues and concerns surrounding TVI Resource Development Philippines Inc.’s Balabag Gold and Silver Project and Canatuan Project, and the Industrial Sand and Gravel permit holders in the Zamboanga Peninsula were also discussed.
 
Moncano said that apart from the prompt approval of permits, the meeting also aimed for the compliance of the Ease of Doing Business Law, improvement in the mines permitting system, faster development of the mineral sector, and increased production capacities of mines.###
 

The Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG), led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), reported the presence of jellyfish in the whole stretch of the White Beach in Boracay on Saturday, May 14.

By 5pm, the jellyfish were washed away and no recurrence was observed on Sunday morning.

According to the initial assessment of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Aklan, the jellyfish is a natural occurrence in the coastal areas of the province in the months of May to September and is dependent on the direction of the wind.

DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna said the BIARMG has already coordinated with the BFAR Aklan regarding the incident.

"The safety of the public is our primary concern. We want to assure the locals and the tourists that the DENR as chair of the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force is closely working with the BFAR as part of our responsibility in the rehabilitation of the island,” Sampulna said.

BIARMG General Manager Martin Despi said thumb-sized jellyfish were seen at around 2pm in all three stations of the White Beach particularly in the waters and on the beach area, and in Angol and Diniwid but these were washed out in the late afternoon.

"Yesterday, the wind direction was southwest or habagat which was towards the White Beach. This caused the jelly fish to accumulate in the beach area," said Despi.

As of Sunday morning, May 15, BFAR Aklan Provincial Fisheries Office OIC Director Evelyn Abad said that the team they sent reported that the White Beach, from stations 1 to 3, is clear of jellyfish and has almost no trace of yesterday’s incident.

“We were able to get samples of the jellyfish to determine its species. They were very small and appear to be newborn jellyfish. These will be brought to our laboratory for testing on Monday,” said Abad.

The BFAR has also advised the Environmental Management Bureau in Region 6 to get samples in case of a recurrence and to note the time these were observed.

Despi added that the lifeguards have advised tourists not to swim in the affected area should there be a recurrence. ###

 

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna urged the candidates in the 2022 national and local elections to clean up and dispose of campaign materials in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

“Win or lose, these candidates must consider the long-term consequences of their campaign materials in the environment. Therefore, they must encourage their supporters and volunteers to take down these materials, especially those made of plastic, and dispose these properly,” Sampulna said.

He added that the DENR, together with the local government units (LGUs), will be “at the beck and call” of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make sure that a resolution will be crafted requiring candidates to remove election materials after every campaign period.

“We will make sure that the existing environmental laws, such as RA 9003, will strengthen the resolution,” Sampulna said.

Moreover, the DENR chief asked the candidates to assemble their teams to “clean up voluntarily instead of being intimidated by possible violations after the election season.”

“Candidates could show how sincere they are in serving the country this way,” he added.

Sampulna recommended the recycling and upcycling campaign materials to lessen the by-products that will be disposed of in the dumpsites.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government, which is a member of the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC), has already disseminated an advisory to all LGUs to remind them to strictly enforce the pertinent provisions of RA 9003.

Under the advisory, which was disseminated to the regional offices of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), several initiatives have been recommended including strict enforcement of local ordinances and regulations against illegal dumping, open burning and littering, and utilization of materials recovery facilities of LGUs to collect and store reusable materials.

Coming up with innovative and safe strategies to recycle and upcycle reusable campaign waste materials; imposing the responsibility to the organizers of political activities to ensure that the waste generated will be properly disposed; and encouraging the citizenry to take part in initiatives of LGUs in ensuring a clean and litter-free environment, prior to, during and after elections were also included in the recommended initiatives for post-election activities of the candidates.

In April, the DENR took down over 114,000 campaign materials posted on trees nationwide pursuant to RA 3571.

RA 3571 provides that “cutting, destroying, or injuring of planted or growing trees, flowering plants and shrubs or plants of scenic value along public roads, in plazas, parks, school premises, or in any other public pleasure grounds are prohibited.” ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – through the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) – led the throwing of “bokashi balls” or mabuhay balls into the Balabag Wetland Park on April 29, as part of the rehabilitation and recovery of ecosystems on Boracay Island in Malay, Aklan.

Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) General Manager Martin Despi said the throwing of bokashi balls is a regular activity of the Environmental Management Bureau – National Capital Region (EMB-NCR) to improve water quality of the Manila Bay Watershed.

A bokashi ball, also known as “mabuhay ball,” is a Japanese rehabilitation technology made up of all-organic materials, such as garden soil, molasses, and rice hull.

It has an effective microorganism solution that breaks down toxins and consumes bad bacteria in the water.

“As long as we remain consistent with our rehabilitation efforts in all our wetlands, we are positive that throwing bokashi balls will reap positive results,” Despi said, noting that the 8,000 square meter-wetland’s water quality is currently at 7,900 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100mL).

The DENR aims to throw around 8,000 bokashi balls into the Balabag Wetland, with each bokashi ball able to clean about one-square-meter area.

“We will continue with what we’ve started, and who knows? Maybe our Balabag Wetland could also become swimmable in the near future,” Despi said.

Aboitiz Equity Ventures and Aboitiz Foundation Inc. adopted Balabag Wetland Park or Wetland No. 4 in 2018 to support the BIATF’s wetland recovery and rehabilitation program.

The throwing of bokashi balls into Boracay’s wetlands is one of DENR’s projects when the massive rehabilitation started in 2018.

At that time, resorts and houses have illegally reclaimed most of the wetlands in Boracay.

Despi cited that bokashi balls were also used to aid in the clean-up of creeks or “esteros” that are draining into Manila Bay.

He said that one of the esteros draining into Manila Bay registered the highest level of fecal coliform at 240 million MPN/100mL, but because of this intervention, it decreased to 19 million MPN/100mL. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which heads the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), has expressed hope that the municipal government of Malay will sustain the gains of the Boracay rehabilitation as the task force’s term ends next month.

“We are all excited to complete the rehabilitation of Boracay. But we cannot allow anyone to undo—immediately or otherwise—what we have accomplished, or to unlawfully stand in the way to the completion of our mission,” said DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna during the BIATF Principals’ Meeting in Boracay Island on April 29.

Sampulna said that the dissolution of the task force does not mean the end of the rehabilitation of the world-famous resort island.

He added that the various agencies and local government units, whether independent of each other or in partnership with one another, can continue the unfinished projects according to their respective priorities under the new administration.

The BIATF, which is chaired by the DENR with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) as vice chair and the Department of Tourism (DOT) as co-vice chair was created by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte through Executive Order (EO) 53 on May 8, 2018.

On Sept. 14, 2021, the BIATF’s term was extended for the second time until June 30, 2022, through EO 147.

Sampulna pointed out that the general progress of the BIATF is “nothing short of remarkable, if not awesome, particularly in the reduction of fecal coliform counts and the rehabilitation of wetlands.”

“Our comfort, by then, is that we have done our part as members of this task force, and that, hopefully, we will be in a position to do more, or that our successors will be able to protect and build on our gains,” he said.

During the meeting on April 29, Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) General Manager Martin Jose V. Despi bared that Boracay’s beach is Class SB-compliant or safe for swimming, as it is within the standard fecal coliform level of 100 most probable number per 100 milliliters (100 MPN/100 mL).

In April 2022, the lowest fecal coliform level was at less than 1.8 MPN/100mL in three of the 21 sampling stations around the island.

Of the nine wetlands in Boracay, ongoing wetland rehabilitation efforts include improvement of water quality, construction of linear park and amphitheater in Wetland 4 (adopted by Aboitiz Property Ventures), establishment of an arboretum in Wetland 3 (adopted by San Miguel Corporation), construction of a boardwalk and perimeter fencing in Wetland 6 (adopted by Boracay Tubi Systems, Inc.), perimeter fencing of unoccupied portions of Wetland 8 (adopted by JG Summit, Inc.) and clearing of illegal settlers and construction of a 230-meter concrete fence in Wetland 9.

All these activities are expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2022.

Wetland 2 has been turned over by its adopter, Energy Development Corporation, to the DENR in February, while Wetland 1 in Bgy. Yapak, and Wetlands 5 and 9 in Bgy. Manoc-manoc, do not have their adopters.

Moreover, the Bokashi ball intervention initiated by the BIARMG is expected to improve water quality in all the wetlands.

With the influx of tourists on the island, DENR-Region 6 is updating its carrying capacity study and is expected to be finished by June 15, 2022.

As of April 2022, 155,885 foreign and local tourists arrived on the island, which is higher than the 116,645 tourists during the same period in 2018.

Sampulna said there is a need for an “honest-to-goodness” study on the carrying capacity and suggested to engage with a third party and the DENR-Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau.

On the enforcement of the 25+5-meter beach easement rule, 89 percent or 301 out of 339 establishments encroaching on the 25+5 meter beach easement have been demolished and are compliant as of April 15, 2022.

A hundred percent compliance is targeted by the end of June 2022.

On the enforcement of the 12-meter road right-of-way for widening and improvement of the Boracay Circumferential Road, 88 percent of establishments or 1,078 out of 1,230 total structures have been demolished and have complied with the 12-meter road easement.

The BIARMG targets a 94 percent total compliance rate or an additional 152 establishments to be demolished by the second quarter of 2022.

As to solid waste management, a memorandum of agreement between DENR-EMB and LGU Malay was signed for the release of P50 million to support the collection and transport of solid waste on the island.

Other accomplishments include the completion of 80 housing units for the relocation of Boracay residents in Barangay Dumlog in Malay, Aklan and the vaccination of 102 percent of tourism workers. ###