Regional Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Cagayan provincial government are targeting to produce 2 million vegetable seedlings this year to help bolster government’s efforts in providing nutritious food to communities reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cagayan Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Ismael Manaligod said the DENR’s 5-hectare modernized and mechanized forest nursery (MMFN) in Solana town has been repurposed for raising vegetable seedlings with the help of the provincial government.

“Some 30,000 seedlings have been raised so far since the effort started last April 23, with the Cagayan Provincial Agriculture Office providing all inputs and technical assistance,” Manaligod said.

Among the seedlings being produced in the nursery are squash, eggplant, gourd (upo), and finger chili (siling haba).

Manaligod said the provincial government provides for the seeds, soil media and fertilizers, as well as the trainings of nursery laborers, majority of them are DENR employees.

He said the vegetable seedlings will later on be delivered to beneficiary-communities identified by the provincial government.

Manaligod said the nursery facility will also continue to produce forest tree seedlings to meet its target of 1 million seedlings for 2020.

In 2014, the DENR built 16 MMFNs or one in every region under the National Greening Program, the government’s flagship reforestation initiative. These MMFNs have a combined capacity of 1 million forest tree seedlings per day. ###


The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 2 has raised over P1 million in cash donations from its employees in the region to support frontline health workers and hospitals responding to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis in the region.

DENR-Region 2 Executive Director Antonio Abawag said that a total of P1,040,635 were collected from 1,075 employees of the regional office, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs), Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs), Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Region 2, and the BFD Multipurpose Cooperative in response to the call of the DENR top management.

“Most of the personnel donated an amount equivalent to their one-day salary,” Abawag revealed.

Of the total amount donated, Abawag said that P300,000 from the regional office, EMB Region 2 and BFD Multipurpose Cooperative, was turned over to the Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Tuguegarao City on April 29. The hospital is among the designated COVID-19 treatment facilities in the region.

He said the remaining P740,635 will be used to purchase personal protective equipment and relief goods for frontliners in other hospitals in Cagayan Valley.

Aside from this, the regional and field offices in Cagayan Valley have been distributing meal packs to non-medical frontliners, such as law enforcement and barangay officers manning checkpoints, as well as to poor communities to augment relief operations of the national and provincial government entities.

According to DENR-Region 2 Assistant Director for Technical Services Felix Taguba, DENR vehicles have also been deployed since April 23 to ferry frontliners to and from their residences to COVID-19 referral hospitals, which include the Isabela Doctors General Hospital and Governor Faustino N. Dy Memorial Hospital, both in Isabela province.

Some DENR personnel also assist in manning checkpoints and in disinfecting public places, he said.

DENR Regional Public Affairs Office Chief Corazon Corpuz added the DENR’s Mechanized and Modernized Forest Nursery in Solana, Cagayan is also being tapped for vegetable seedling production to boost the region’s food aid to vulnerable communities affected by the pandemic crisis.#

Towards the end of 2019 and to the present, the Philippines and the world have been continuously dealing with the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 which has affected and claimed thousands of lives.

In the country, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared a state of national health emergency and a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine. Visayas and Mindanao followed suit to help curb the transmission of the disease.

In Western Visayas, the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental implemented a lockdown in their respective provincial borders to contain the spread of the dreaded virus that has infected many and caused death to a number of people.

Physical distancing and wearing of face masks in public places were also ordered. Senior citizens and students were strictly instructed to stay at home and curfew was set from 8 o’clock in the evening until 5 o’clock in the morning.

In the government and in most private companies, work was suspended except for hospitals and those involved in relief operations.

For the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6, COVID-19 is an opportunity to encourage gardening among families as a way to strengthen bonds and for parents to spend quality time with their children. At the same time, it is a chance to help the Earth to heal and be green again.

“Gardening is an excellent stress reliever. A combination of exposure to fresh air and sunlight, a good exposure to the natural world,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr., who is also a plant lover, being a forester by profession.

“In this time of crisis, people tend to be nervous about going out of the four corners of their house. But it is at this time, when we can also contribute to the healing of our Earth by practicing ‘enhanced’ family gardening. Bond with your kids, make that empty space in your home colorful and greener, and make your self-quarantine productive. Reuse any material that you have while gardening. Just be creative. It will surely lessen your trash and ensure chemical-free vegetables for your family,” Milla added.

During this season, it is advisable to plant vegetable crops. Since most public markets are closed for a number of days for fumigation and sanitation and with the restriction in public transportation, having a vegetable garden in one’s backyard will help provide the daily nutrition requirement from vegetables. Additionally, vegetables are proven best for health and cost less. Many green, leafy and yellow vegetables such as spinach, camote tops, malunggay, squash, tomatoes and eggplants are a good food source and are easy to plant.

Most women consider growing flowering plants around the house as a stress reliever. For homes with gardens, repotting can be done by deadheading flowers and trimming foliage. Place the trimmed plant in a bigger pot or change its soil to enhance growth.

If there is no backyard or space for a new plant, container gardening can also work. Reuse empty plastic water containers or any other kind of plastic container where the plant can fit. Arrange it vertically or horizontally or in any way to beautify it. Gardening is a good physical activity that reduces stress.

According to Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, the protection of the environment is not the sole responsibility of the government but of every individual.

“Being more environmentally conscious is the right thing to do. Living a more eco-friendly lifestyle could help create a sustainable planet and mitigate the effects of climate change and global warming,” said Cimatu.

Clean air, Clean water and Ecological Solid Waste Management are among the 10 priority programs of the DENR under Cimatu. / DENR 6

Amidst the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, birds have been frequently seen flying and heard chirping and singing from the trees in Iloilo City.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 6 sees these as a sign that the environment is healing from the dreadful effects of pollution. The presence of a flock of birds in the trees and skies is a noticeable evidence of a revived balance in nature.

Animals, especially birds, relish the peaceful atmosphere brought about by the limited movement of people and land, air and sea transport in a measure to avoid the local transmission of the virus and contain the outbreak. Air, land, water, noise, light and oil pollution are great threats to birds. 

In urban areas, air quality is greatly affected by smog and noxious gases. Birds have high a respiratory rate making them highly susceptible to air pollutants and airborne impurities. With the limited airline flights and vehicles plying in the streets, birds could now breathe better and soar in the skies.

At night, bright city lights affect the view of the stars in the sky which birds use to determine their route for the next day. These lights affect the flight patterns of birds and break their usual migration paths. When natural light is extremely altered, birds become confused and disoriented. The restricted movement of vehicles because of the curfew in the city, has allowed the birds to see the stars better at night.

Some bird species use vocalization to attract a mate, warn against danger and socialize with other birds in the avian community. In the city, noise pollution affects the birds and their habits. It also interferes with their communication when they vocalize at low frequencies to attract a mate for reproduction. With the city now quieter and with reduced ambient noise, birds are seen and heard vocalizing at low frequencies.

For waterbird species in wetlands and seas, water pollutants reduce the amount of oxygen in the water which causes the death of fish, a source of their food. Oil spills also affect these avian creatures. Oil removes the protective layer of feathers, exposes the birds’ skin and may lead to poisoning. With reduced sea travel, there is lesser water pollution that puts waterbirds at risk.

“Humans have now realized that nature, once left alone, can bounce back to its balance. We have seen something really good amid this COVID-19 pandemic. I encourage all to protect birds and their habitats. Do not capture or poach birds or illegally cut trees. Let us bear in mind that the key to a harmonious life is to live as one with nature,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

Enhanced Biodiversity Conservation is among the ten priority programs of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.#DENR6

Onto the third week of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Luzon, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in MIMAROPA has apprehended in separate locations in the region, abandoned lumber which were believed to be illegally cut while the entire country was observing extreme measures to fight COVID-19.

On March 22, the Monitoring and Enforcement Section of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro apprehended and hauled in Sitio Anduyanan and Sitio San Pablo in Brgy. Alipaoy, Paluan town a total of 880.28 board feet of Amugis, Lauan and Banuyo. These premium species of trees are used for construction and furniture-making.

“We have to retrieve the lumber immediately, otherwise, the perpetrators would get them back, or other people might take them for personal use,” said Ernesto Tañada, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer (PENRO) in Occidental Mindoro.

As part of administrative proceedings, a notice was left in the area for any claimant to show proof of ownership of the apprehended lumber. The items were then transported to CENRO Sablayan Coordinating Office in Mamburao for documentation, confiscation, and custody of the lumber.

Similarly, DENR employees in Sibuyan, Romblon, apprehended on March 23 and 24, Apitong lumber with a total volume of 266 bd ft in Brgy. Espana in San Fernando town. Two days after, with the help of the Philippine National Police, the team also retrieved 120 bd ft of red Lauan abandoned in Brgy. Mabini.

“It is difficult at these times, but we continue to be on call 24/7 to protect our forests,” Romblon PENR Officer Maximo Landrito expressed.

Meanwhile in Palawan, the Forest Product Monitoring Station of CENRO Taytay recovered 10 sacks of charcoal of mangrove species in Brgy. Aberawan, El Nido on March 16. The group also apprehended 10 sacks of charcoal of Forest Tree species abandoned at Sitio Talogon, Brgy. Bagong-bayan in Taytay on March 21.

“Our team likewise responded to a slash and burn (kaingin) cultivation in Sitio Sablayan, Brgy. Pancol, also in Taytay on March 23. The incident shall be under further investigation as we have already identified the owner of the lot, as well as those who initiated the activity,” Taytay CENR Officer Alan Valle reported.

In light of the imposition of ECQ, government workers in the executive branch were ordered to work from home and maintain skeletal workforces to respond to essential and urgent services. DENR MIMAROPA, in consonance with the pronouncements of Civil Service Commission and Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, has arranged for alternative working arrangements to ensure continuous delivery of service and safety of personnel at the same time.

“While most of us are at home, that does not stop us from being on the lookout on anyone violating nature,” DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado said. “We know that illegal loggers would take advantage of the situation so we strengthen our monitoring and enforcement teams through the LGUs and communities to prevent violators from succeeding in their unlawful activities,” he added.

RED Adornado meanwhile thanked the communities for keeping a watchful eye on the environment. CENRO Sablayan received a tip on the abandoned lumber from a concerned citizen. CENRO Taytay on the other hand, was informed of the illegal activities through social media.

The director clarified that DENR MIMAROPA takes precautionary measures whenever it deploys quick response teams to ensure the health and safety of its personnel as well as the community they are responding to.

“Defending nature is a daunting task, especially during these times. That is why we laud our personnel in the field for doing their job in the midst of this ECQ. We are also grateful knowing that as we all grapple with this dreaded disease, the public remains our constant partner in protecting our environment and natural resources,” he concluded. (With reports and photos from CENRO Sablayan, CENRO Taytay and PENRO Romblon) ###