Press Releases

Various national government agencies have come together to draw up a harmonized recovery plan for areas in MIMAROPA and Western Visayas regions affected by the oil spill from MT Princess Empress that sank in the waters of Oriental Mindoro almost two months ago.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded an activity held at its central office in Quezon City on April 19 to harmonize the recovery plans of different national government agencies with the overall goal of addressing the oil spill’s intersecting impacts to the people, environment, tourism, and the local economy.

In leading the inter-agency discussion, DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga said the recovery plan must be consistent with the “whole-of-government” approach espoused by the Marcos administration in responding to the oil spill disaster.

“We have a convergence framework where we look at each of our mandate, at the point of how we can support the building of resilience for inclusive and sustainable activities,” Loyzaga said.

The DENR chief said the recovery plan should “not only look at bouncing back, but bouncing forward” as it must guarantee resiliency of communities and ecosystems.

The activity was co-headed by Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia-Frasco and Defense Undersecretary Ariel Nepomuceno, who serves as the executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) and administrator of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD).

In her opening remarks, Frasco reported that over 1,600 workers dependent on tourism had already been deprived of their livelihood due to the oil spill.

She expressed full support for a cohesive approach on tourism development that is sustainable and regenerative.

With the OCD as one of the main agencies leading the recovery efforts, Nepomuceno recognized that scientific approach is crucial in these initiatives, thus, the NDRRMC and OCD will seek more accurate guidance from science-based agencies, such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) whose representative was also present in the activity.

To provide inputs for the succeeding discussion, Senior Ecosystems Management Specialist Jhorace Tupas of the DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau presented the latest results of the Rapid Biodiversity Assessments in Oriental Mindoro and Palawan for MIMAROPA and Semirara Island in Caluya, Antique for Western Visayas, indicating potential threats to marine life and mangrove ecosystem.

The second part of her presentation was on the initial economic value of coastal and marine ecosystems within the affected provinces. Other agencies suggested that this valuation is a possible area of collaboration for data enrichment done through inclusion of other sectors and data sharing.

These information are proven to be vital, especially for the ongoing case build-up by the Department of Justice, which during the discussion underscored the importance of handling the collected pieces of evidence and the documents that need to be preserved, as these will be used in pursuit of legal remedies.

Among the suggestions for consideration in the recovery plan are the conduct of a post-disaster needs assessment to ensure effective, efficient and relevant recovery plan with trained people to assess the damage and loss, and determination of accurate fund requirements and sources, not just for the recovery plan but also for rehabilitation.

Other recommendations include the need to improve communication protocols to translate scientific information into clear, accurate, and simple information for the public; ensuring learning continuity vis-à-vis health status of learners and teachers; setting of specific indicators for normalcy for different sectors such as fisherfolk and tourists; and addressing mental health of affected individuals.

Other agencies represented were the Department of Education, the Department of Health, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Energy, the National Economic and Development Authority, and the Philippine Coast Guard.

Aside from the harmonization activity, the agencies are expected to present their reports and plans to the NDRRMC in a meeting slated last April 20. #

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has affirmed its commitment to closely and actively coordinate with other agencies involved in the ongoing Oriental Mindoro oil spill response in line with the “whole-of-government” approach being espoused by the Marcos administration.

DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones said the agency will continue to monitor water quality in affected areas, assess the environmental impacts, and provide the necessary technical assistance in addressing the oil spill disaster.

“The DENR, under the able leadership of Secretary Antonia Loyzaga, has been doing its part in a whole-of-government approach to address the oil spill incident,” Leones pointed out. “When you say whole-of-government, it involves collaboration among the different departments and agencies of government with a view to providing the public a combined response to the disaster.”

Just recently, the DENR and the Department of Health issued a joint statement announcing the results of the latest water quality tests conducted in Puerto Galera, a popular beach destination and diving site in Oriental Mindoro.

The results released last April 14 showed that only nine of 35 sampling stations have met the criteria for water quality guidelines on “oil and grease” contaminants set under DENR Administrative Order 2016-08 or the Water Quality Guidelines and General Effluent Standards of 2016.

There used to be only six sampling stations in Puerto Galera, but the DENR decided to put up another 29 in the wake of the oil spill incident in order to provide more accurate results that could be used as basis for measures to reduce or prevent hazards to human and environmental health.

Meanwhile, Secretary Loyzaga lauded the provincial government of Oriental Mindoro led by Governor Humerlito "Bonz" Dolor for taking the lead role in the response efforts and for making the different departments work together to assist the province in addressing the disaster brought by the oil spill.

“Governor Dolor really is the main response and so we have to give credit where credit is due, and that he was able to address and help also the different municipalities in trying to confront the challenge of the spill,” Loyzaga said.

“We need to acknowledge this and I think that to the credit of the local government, they’ve been able to assemble the different support from the different departments, and for all of us to work together,” she added.

In addition to its mandate for the environment, the DENR has been in close collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) in enforcing the cash-for-work program to assist those whose daily incomes have been severely affected by the oil spill.

Based on the DENR Situational Report released on April 17, a total of 17,342 beneficiaries from Regions IV-B and VI have received payouts equivalent to P317,342,516.

“During last Saturday’s (April 15) meeting in Mindoro with the President, we emphasized this – it is a whole of government approach,” Loyzaga said. “DSWD has been involved, DOLE has been very much involved as well. DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) has been involved because of the scale of the impact on the SMEs (small and medium enterprises).”

At the onset of the disaster, the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority or NAMRIA, an attached agency of the DENR, deployed BRP Hydrographer Ventura to locate the sunken vessel through the use of a multibeam survey or bathymetric data.

In collaboration with the University of the Philippines-Marine Science Institute (UP-MSI), a trajectory map that served as a guide to install spill booms and to help direct efforts in affected areas has been developed.

The DENR-MIMAROPA and Environmental Management Bureau in Region IV-B have installed spill booms as a precautionary measure to prevent damage to marine environments. The booms are made from indigenous materials, which are readily accessible to the immediate communities.

The National Space Agency provided satellite images of the oil spill flow to aid in the containment and cleanup of the oil spill and to come up with appropriate interventions.

The DENR field offices also provided technical assistance on the proper collection, storage and disposal of oil waste and oil-contaminated materials collected during the cleanup. A total of 4,220 liters of oil wastes and 208,820.10 liters of oil-contaminated wastes have been collected from Regions IV-A, IV-B and VI.

According to Undersecretary Leones, the DENR is also working with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its case build-up against those responsible for the oil slick.

Possible violations against environmental laws, especially the Philippine Clean Water Act, will be added to the overall assessment of the potential damage, which total cost will be determined by the DOJ. The DOJ findings will also include the compensation due to affected fisherfolk. #


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) met with the leaders of environmental groups that oppose reclamation in Manila Bay on April 14 at the DENR Central Office in Quezon City.

DENR consulted sector representatives as part of the Department’s continuous policy review and outreach to stakeholders on environmentally critical issues including Fernando Hicap, President of Pamalakaya (National Federation of Small Fisherfolk Organization in the Philippines); Narod Eco, member of AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People) and former researcher at the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Geological Sciences; Atty. Rose-Liza Osorio, Legal and Policy Specialist of Oceana Philippines; Paco Perez, Campaign Officer of NILAD; Jerwin Baure, Public Information Officer of AGHAM; and Jon Bonifacio, National Coordinator of Kalikasan PNE (People’s Network for the Environment). Joining the meeting were DENR Undersecretaries Jonas Leones, Juan Miguel Cuna, CP David, and Marilou Erni; DENR Technical Adviser to the Secretary Dr. Noralene Uy; Professor Jessica Bercilla; and Atty. Gia Ibay, Head of the Climate Change and Energy Programme of World Wildlife Fund Philippines (WWF).

Environment Secretary Antonia Loyzaga stated that inputs from all sectors are valuable for the DENR to deliver its mandate. This dialogue enables the gaining of ground-based knowledge and accelerates the collection of data and evidence from affected communities and stakeholders. DENR will continue consultations with academic institutions, experts, advocates, and other civil society groups next.

“We are reviewing everything – policies, processes, and the immediate actions that need to be taken in order to address this environmental issue. Your inputs today are valuable for the DENR. I am here to listen. That is the promise I am giving you. That listening will result in what we are trying to actually achieve: changes in the process, changes in the policy, and possibly, changes in the people,” said Loyzaga.

Fernando Hicap, President of Pamalakaya, said Loyzaga’s appointment last year by President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. was a welcome decision for their groups, citing her expertise in science and climate change. He later expressed disappointment over what he considers as irreversible damage in Manila Bay caused by reclamation, its impacts on the livelihoods of people dependent on fishing, and the alleged threats to those who oppose it.
Loyzaga expressed the Department’s appeal for environmental groups to share data and evidence to help the DENR accelerate the reforms that need to be undertaken. The groups likewise requested specific policy reforms, particularly a review of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system and process.

AGHAM member and former researcher for the University of the Philippines’ National Institute of Geological Sciences Narod Eco urged the DENR to make the system and process more participatory rather than just being consultative.

“Sana mayroon tayong takdang ‘threshold [of harm]’ para i-deny ang ECC. Sana ay mai-apply din ang precautionary principle sa mga projects na ito,” said Eco. “Marami nang scientists, hindi lang po ako na naglatag na ng mga detalyadong argumento laban sa proyekto na ito, sa iba’t ibang aspeto din. Ang kagandahan po sa siyensiya ng Manila Bay ay robust po siya at hindi lang siya nanggagaling sa isang perspective.”

The environmental groups also requested, and the DENR agreed to, regular consultation and increased interdepartmental coordination on fisheries with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

Loyzaga shared that the DENR is building a constituency for resilient development through continuous consultation. It will hold an Experts Forum on Reclamation in May that will be composed of two sessions: Governance and Technical Issues. The former will tackle processes, policies, programs, plans, and actions, while the latter session will focus on the scientific aspect of reclamation. The Secretary invited Pamalakaya and AGHAM as panelists in the multistakeholder forum.

The Secretary closed the meeting by stating, “The processes and policies currently being reviewed are part of a larger effort to bring integrity to the Department… we need to understand that we must be fit for our purpose and for the values that we want the Department to represent.” ###


The Philippines and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) will hold the 1st PH-German Consultation on Climate on Tuesday, April 18, marking the first time a high-level consultation between the two countries will be conducted which will focus on expanding their long-standing partnership on accelerating the two countries’ climate agenda both at the global and local levels.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Loyzaga will head the Philippine side, while Jennifer Lee Morgan, State Secretary and Special Envoy for International Climate Policy at the Federal Foreign Office, will head Germany’s side with FRG Ambassador to the Philippines Anke Reiffenstuel and other senior German Embassy officials. Before the start of her official program, she stated:

“I came to the Philippines to see with my own eyes the devastation that is being wreaked by the climate crisis and to hear from the people of Tacloban who lost everything because of terrible climate intensified typhoons. Our climate consultations will enable me to listen, learn and discuss how we can deepen our bilateral collaboration and to help those who are hit hardest by the climate crisis. We must work together to contain the climate crisis. We want to work with the Philippines to develop a resilient, alternative development pathway that brings prosperity and a better life for all citizens. And to strive for a successful COP28 that drives ambition by the major emitters to keep the 1.5 degrees limit within sight, and shows solidarity with the most vulnerable people on earth.“

Loyzaga, on the other hand, will be joined by senior officials from the member-agencies of the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction. “The Department’s role is to build the lifelines to the resources on land, and in the air and sea, that will ensure inclusive, resilient and sustainable development. In order to do this, we need to work with partners, such as the German government, to develop integrated strategies for a science-based, risk-informed, ethical and equitable stewardship of our environment,” Loyzaga said.

During the consultations, both governments will discuss ways and procedures to accelerate the implementation of German-funded environmental and climate programs aligned with Philippines’s priorities in order to strengthen its commitments to address the climate crisis on a global level, particularly the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), which binds the Philippines to attain an emission reduction or avoidance in its greenhouse gas (GHG) by 75 percent (2.71% is unconditional, and 72.29% is conditional), as part of the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Slated to be discussed is the prospects for expanding access to FRG’s International Climate Initiative (IKI) as the Philippines is a focus country of IKI, being one of the countries in the world most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and one of the world’s 17 megadiverse countries.
Agenda items will include critical climate and environmental issues of immediate global and national concerns such as are the Philippine’s environmental priority programs on water security, decarbonization of the Philippine economy through transitioning to renewable and sustainable energy in keeping with the country’s NDC target and the strengthening of the country’s climate adaptation and resilience building capacities as well as disaster risk reduction and management capacities. The discussions will also focus on operationalizing the loss and damage agenda, particularly building more resilience against the consequences of the climate crisis, about which State Secretary Jennifer Morgan was able to learn about first-hand during her field visit in Tacloban on Monday, April 17.

To date, the strong partnership between Germany and the Philippines is reflected in several IKI projects exceeding 63 million EUR in funding and covering projects on mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions, adaptation to the impacts of climate change, conservation of natural carbon sinks with a focus on reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+), and conservation of biodiversity.

The IKI is a funding program initiative for climate action and biodiversity conservation established in 2018 by the German government underlining its commitment to pledges in international climate finance. To date, more than 700 projects in over 120 countries are funded by IKI with around 3.9 billion EUR.###


The Philippines, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), renewed its partnership with the United Kingdom (UK) through the British Embassy Manila on climate and environment during the 3rd UK-PH Climate Change and Environment Dialogue on April 13 in Quezon City.

The Dialogue culminated in the signing of a renewed Partnership Agreement on Climate Change and Environment led by DENR Secretary Antonia Loyzaga and British Ambassador to the Philippines Laure Beaufils.

The Agreement lays the groundwork for deeper collaboration between the Philippines and the United Kingdom towards enhancing climate resilience, driving down global emissions, and protecting and restoring the environment.

Moreover, both countries committed to working together to deliver shared priority objectives: enhancing the resilience of respective economies, ecosystems and communities; accelerating clean energy transition; mobilizing climate finance; and driving inclusive, cross-sectoral collaboration to achieve these goals.

“One of our takeaways from COP27, UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, and the UN Water Conference is the need for a comprehensive climate and disaster risk assessment to de-risk investment and accelerate action towards both green and blue economic development. By taking all hazards and climate change as risk drivers, countries such as the Philippines have the opportunity to address urgent and specific challenges across sectors and scales. We are fortunate to have partners such as the UK for having invested in this vision. We have a shared understanding that the last mile - our communities and ecosystems that support them - need to be the first mile in terms of investment, impact-based early warning, and environmental protection,” said Loyzaga.

Under Loyzaga’s leadership, the DENR has committed to being at the forefront of climate action through its mandate of conserving, protecting, managing, restoring, and regenerating the country’s environment and natural resources.

British Ambassador to the Philippines Beaufils expressed her appreciation to the Government of the Philippines for its ongoing proactivity and cooperation in the climate and environment space.

“We are delighted to be working with the Philippines both bilaterally and as part of the international community to keep 1.5 degrees within reach, to build resilience to current and future climate impacts, and to halt and reverse nature loss. Addressing these challenges is not just a public good – it will drive investment, innovation, and empower communities across the Philippines. I welcome the whole-of-government approach adopted by the Philippines and look forward to further collaboration over the next 12 months and beyond,” Beaufils said.

The UK is an active leader in working towards net-zero and remains committed to supporting efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees; increasing access to climate finance through both the public and private sectors; and ensuring the international system works for climate vulnerable countries like the Philippines.

The PH-UK Dialogue demonstrates the extensive cross-government and cross-sectoral conversations and strong policy direction on the climate and environment agenda under this administration.

Officials from the DENR, Climate Change Commission, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of Agriculture, Department of Budget and Management, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Finance, Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development, Department of Energy, Department of Science and Technology, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, National Economic and Development Authority, the Public-Private Partnership Center, Securities and Exchange Commission, and UK Government representatives shared their interventions during the Dialogue. ###