The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has decided to cancel all of its environmental events for March 2020 in the light of the proactive move by city and provincial governments of Iloilo to protect its people from the local transmission of COVID 19.

“We have to obey the rules and protect ourselves from this dreaded virus that is now gripping the world with fear. It is necessary for us to cancel our scheduled events for the month as protecting life is more important right now,” said Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr. of DENR Region 6.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas has issued Executive Order (EO) No. 50-A series of 2020, an amendment to EO Nos. 042-A and 050. On the other hand, Iloilo Governor Arthur R. Defensor, Jr. signed EO No. 028-C, series of 2020 to protect the residents in the city and province of Iloilo, and to prevent the spread and/or local transmission of COVID. The two EOs also restricted travel, discouraged mass gatherings, suspended classes, and imposed social distancing and community quarantine procedures.

In support to these initiatives, the DENR Region 6 cancelled its scheduled activities for the month of March, namely: International Day of Forests on March 21, World Water Day on March 22, Earth Hour on March 28, and all Women’s Month activities from March 1-31.

As a preventive measure, the DENR 6 management also provided alcohol and sanitizer for use of all its employees, suspended the holding of flag raising and lowering ceremonies and the use of biometrics, and closed the canteen until April 14.

Three Designated Receiving Areas (DRAs) were also set up - Courtyard for the regional office, the Surveys and Mapping Division, and the Manuel L. Lagunilla Compound Ground Floor Lobby for clients who bring documents to the office. All personnel are also discouraged to receive personal visitors or bring family members in the office.

DENR 6 has also adopted the four-day work week scheme in compliance to Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-02 signed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. The Memo Circular provides for the alternate working arrangements to ensure safety of the personnel while continuing to deliver essential services of the Department despite the COVID 19 threat.

On the other hand, Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) Regional Director Atty. Ramar Niel V. Pascua issued an advisory encouraging everyone to take part in the observance of Earth Hour, a global lights-off event, by turning off all non-essential lights in their homes, establishments and offices on March 28 from 8:30 PM until 9:30 PM.

The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has also cancelled the LoveBoracay 2020 events due to the threat of COVID 19. The decision was reached after the task force meeting on March 12 with Malay Mayor Frolebar Bautista and BIATF alternates. The meeting was presided by DENR USec Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr. who represented Secretary Roy A. Cimatu as task force chair.

LoveBoracay is a weeklong series of events celebrating the rehabilitation of the world famous island. It was originally slated for April 26 to May 2.

DENR USec Benny Antiporda, when interviewed by the local media after the meeting, disclosed that “since the COVID 19 situation has not improved, and with the health of the attendees, organizers and stakeholders, a primary consideration, the BIATF has decided to cancel this event.”/DENR 6