Regional Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas celebrated World Wildlife Day (WWD) on March 3, 2020 with the theme “Sustaining All Life on Earth.’’ The celebration aims to promote the importance of the varieties of wild fauna and flora, to raise awareness of the threats to species and to protect and conserve wildlife resources.
The Philippines is the second largest archipelago in the world with 7,641 islands. Its population of over 100 million is projected to reach 125 million by 2030. It is also one of the 17 mega-diverse countries with unique wildlife species.
The country is abundant in wildlife species and resources. It has more than 52,177 described species of which half are endemic. These species include amphibians with 114 species and reptiles with 342 species. It is also known as the 4th most important country in bird endemism with 695 species and 5th in the world in terms of total plant species.
Although the country is biodiversity-rich, it also faces perilous circumstances. Wildlife crime is the fourth most lucrative illegal business in the Philippines after narcotics, human trafficking and arms. Illegal Wildlife Trade (IWT) is estimated to cost P50 billion including the market value of wildlife and its resources and their ecological role and value, damage to habitat caused by poaching, and loss of potential ecotourism revenues.
IWT is driven by domestic and international black markets which thrives on exotic pet trade that gets its supply from poaching activities. Meat from wildlife is considered as luxury food, and scales and skins are made into ornaments and jewelries. Some species are used for traditional medicine that are believed to cure HIV/AIDS thus causing prices to soar to thousands of pesos.
In Western Visayas, the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List classified five key species in the region as follows: Visayan warty pig (Sus cebifrons, Rufous-headed hornbill (Rhabdotorrhinus waldeni, and Negros bleeding heart pigeon (Gallicolumba keayi) as Critically Endangered (CR); and the Philippine spotted deer (Rusa alfredi) and Visayan hornbill (Penelopides panini) as Endangered (EN).
To combat illegal wildlife trade and its economic, environmental and social impacts, the DENR enforces environmental laws particularly Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act which safeguards Philippine flora and fauna.
The regional office confiscates illegally traded wildlife, and conducts continuous information, education and communication (IEC) campaign to raise awareness in saving these species.
“We depend on biodiversity to live and survive here on Earth thus in our hands, lies the power to save and preserve these wildlife species for a balance and healthful ecology,” said Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.
Enhancing biodiversity conservation is one among the ten priority programs of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.###DENR6

Consistent with his 10-point agenda, which includes achieving clean water for all, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu urged the continuous rehabilitation of Boac and Mogpog Riversin Marinduqueas he led the unveiling of the centennial monument that marks the 100th anniversary of the declaration ofthe independence of the province by virtue of Republic Act No. 2880 issued on February 21, 1920.

In his speechas guest of honor during Marinduque’s centennial celebration on February 19, Cimatu expressed the urgency to restore these bodies of waterwhich greatly suffered from the toxic mine wastes spilled by the ruptured drainage tunnels of the open pit of Marcopper Mining Corporation on March 24, 1996. The incident was considered as one of the biggest mining disasters in the country.

In line with this, the DENR Secretary will issue an administrative order pertaining to the proper dredging and other efforts to clean and restore the rivers.

“Through the years, this province has endured many trials and difficulties, yet it survived--the reason we are celebrating what we call ‘Sentenaryo ng Marinduque,’” Cimatu said.

He added that while it is normal to look back on what happened, the people of Marinduque must assess the impact of the mining disaster on their lives and reflect on what they can contribute to improve the province.

R4B Cimatu urges rehab of Mogpog Boac rivers during Marinduques 100th anniversary2

“The question now should be, “Are we contented with the present state of this province or do we still want to move ahead and achieve a better Marinduque, one that is more resilient?,” Cimatu asked.

The Secretary explained that to foster development, the people of Marinduque must be ready to accept one big challenge to sustain their God-given natural riches and for them to secure the province’s next generations.

“The protection of the environment and all other natural resources is not the sole responsibility of the DENR but a shared responsibility among various stakeholders,” he stated.

Since Marinduque tops the list of 10 provinces that are most susceptible to landslides based on the study conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Cimatu pointed out that it is imperative that local government units (LGUs) consider preventive or mitigating measures in their local disaster-preparedness plan.

He also urged theLGU to ensurethe establishment and operation of a sanitary landfill to address garbage collection and disposal issues in the province.

“I believe that with the very competent leaders of this province, all problems and issues on the environment will be resolved,” Cimatu said as he recognized DENR’s partnership with the local government of Marinduque led by Representative Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco, Governor Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr., Vice-Governor Romulo A. Bacorro Jr., and the members of Sanguniang Panlalawigan,who were present in the event.

R4B Cimatu urges rehab of Mogpog Boac rivers during Marinduques 100th anniversary3

Cimatu also ordered the DENR officials and employees in the region to conduct regular monitoring and inspection of air and water quality, as well as solid waste managementin the municipalities of Marinduque, name

“Marinduque is bestly Boac, Buenavista, Gasan, Mogpog, Sta. Cruz and Torrijos.

owed with God-given natural resources. Its beauty is a big potential for ecotourism and other types of development. I believe that economic growth espoused with environmental and social justice

“Marinduquenos, aim for a better, progressive and more resilient province! If you want real change, then work for it. Work hard with us!” the Secretary concluded. is the real “development” because when there is social justice, there is progress,”Cimatu said

The DENR Secretary was joined in the celebration by Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Acting Director Wilfredo Moncano, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado, MGB MIMAROPA Regional Director Roland De Jesus and Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Imelda M. Diaz.###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in MIMAROPA Region held on February 18 simultaneous coastal and river cleanup and mangrove planting activities to celebrate the 24th anniversary of Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park (MGGNP) as a protected area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 746.

Located in Sibuyan Island in Romblon, Mt. Guiting-guiting boasts ofa rich biodiversity, dense forest cover, and natural water system that provide and sustain life in the three municipalities that cover the great mountain range, namely, Magdiwang, Cajidiocan and San Fernando. The DENR and the local government units prepared activities for the whole month of February to allow the communities to recognize the value of Mt. Guiting-guiting to give back to it.

“By planting mangroves, we enrich Sibuyan’s mangrove forest reserve. By cleaning up rivers and seas, we free the wetlands and bodies of water around it from trash,” said Protected Area Superintendent MalvinRoceroduring the mangrove planting activity in Brgy. Cambalo in Cajidiocan.

“Through these simple actions, we show that we take care of Guiting-guiting. Ito angparaannatin para masabinamannatinnamahaltalaganatinangGuiting-guiting,” Rocero said in local dialect while demonstrating the proper way of planting mangrove propagules among participating teachers and students from Cambalo Elementary School.

During the program, Rocero also explained the value of mangroves that serve as breeding ground for diverse life forms; and as the first line of defense against the danger brought by storm surges and tsunamis.
Meanwhile, Romblon’s Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Maximo Landrito noted that the slated activities were fitting not only for Mt. Guiting-guiting Day but also for World Wetlands Day which was commemorated last February 2.

“Part of the marching orders of Secretary Roy Cimatu this year is to promote clean water, enhanced biodiversity conservation and strengthened solid waste management. We observe significant celebrations like these to mobilize people as our partners in protecting the environment so that our children, and the next generations to come would still be able to savor the gifts of Mt. Guiting-guiting and the rest of what nature can offer,” Landrito remarked.

A total of 200 mangrove propagules were planted on that day; and truckloads of trash, mostly plastic, were collected by some 800 volunteers from around the three towns in Sibuyan island.
On February 19, DENR MIMAROPA conducted an environmental lecture for the 300 students of Agutay National High School (ANHS). Personnel from the Regional Public Affairs Office (RPAO) and the MGGNP Protected Area Management Office discussed the importance of wetlands and the salient provisions of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act.

Streamlining the adoption of TayoAngKalikasan (TAK), RPAO also introduced to the students and to ANHS Principal Jomer Martinez, the concept of TAK as DENR’s campaign to intensify the collaboration of the government and the community in upholding the welfare of the environment. RPAO further explained DENR MIMAROPA’s banner program for TAK, which is saying no to single-use plastics, such as straws, stirrers, plastic or disposable utensils, cups and containers.

Martinez and the students accepted the challenge to be part of the solution against plastic pollution by using water tumblers instead of buying plastic-wrapped “ice-tubig,” for their drinks.
Before the program ended, students of ANHS also made their ownhugot-lines based on what they have learned from the discussions. The winner of the best hugot-line belted out a humorous but environment-focused piece. “Mangrove kaba?” “Bakit?” “Kasi, ikawangnagbibigayproteksyon para magingmatatagako!”

The simultaneous coastal and river cleanup drives, mangrove planting activity, environmental lecture and coordinative meetings prompted the planned launch of several LGUs in Sibuyan as local chapters of TayoangKalikasan.

The activities were made possible through the help of PENRO Romblon, MGGNP Protected Area Management Office, Philippine National Police represented by Police Senior Master Sergeant LaniRuba, CambaloBrgy. Captain AngelynRizo, MarigondonBrgy. Captain Willie Repizo, Cambalo Elementary School represented by Ester Ferrer, and ANHS headed by Principal Martinez.

“We at the DENR MIMAROPA, are glad to know that through various IEC activities and environmental celebrations, we have inspired among our people, particularly in Romblon, a deeper understanding of their role in protecting and taking care of Mother Nature,” Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado remarked.

“We will always be to thankful to you because we know that we have partners in making sure that we bequeath a healthy and clean environment to our children and the generations to come,” Adornadoconcluded.###

The Philippines is a diverse country with rich ecosystems that serve as habitats of endemic species of flora and fauna. These bountiful natural resources, however, are facing environmental changes brought about by exploitation such as poaching, deforestation, land degradation through conversion for other usage, climate change and pollution.

Environmental protection is gargantuan in scale and expanse. The Asian Development Bank estimated the cost of illegal wildlife trade in the country at P50 billion a year. In Region 6, the DENR was able to apprehend and confiscate illegally transported forest products that amount to millions. In other regions, cases are more difficult.

Recognizing this threat, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for the creation of an Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau (EPEB) that shall pursue the stringent implementation of environmental laws, policies, rules and regulations with the assistance of personnel from the military, police, the National Bureau of Investigation and government prosecutors.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu saw the need to form EPEB as the DENR lacks personnel similar to police, and intelligence officers to handle enforcement.

“We have laws but we have a hard time implementing them,” said Cimatu. To provide financial support for the proposed bureau, the environment chief proposed an increase in the DENR fund to include P1.2 billion for the EPEB.

“With our own enforcement bureau, the DENR could effectively enforce environmental laws and protect its workers who have been vicious targets of illegal loggers and other environmental criminals,” he added.

On February 19-20, 2020, Iloilo City will host the Strategic Planning Workshop on Environmental Protection and Enforcement.

Undersecretary for Enforcement and Muslim Affairs, Jim O. Sampulna will lead the conduct of the workshop which aims to review, assess and set policy directions in the implementation and presentation of the proposed bill creating the EPEB.

Participants in the event include DENR undersecretaries, assistant secretaries, bureau directors, regional executive directors, assistant regional directors for technical services, PENRO’s, Chief Enforcement Division and the chair of the National Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee Sub-Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (NALECC-SCENR).

The proposed bureau shall arrest and prosecute environmental criminals, apprehend and confiscate unlicensed timber and forest products, and destroy unauthorized and illegal structures. Paraphernalia and conveyances used in the illegal activities may also be confiscated.

The bureau supports President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s zero to 10-point socioeconomic agenda, particularly peace and order.

Further, the EPEB also aims to curb illegal mining, illegal logging, smuggling and trading of wildlife species and other environmental crimes that risk our biodiversity and destroy our protected areas and the habitats of threatened species.

Western Visayas has 235 Lawin Patrollers composed of forest rangers, forest protection officers, forest technicians and park foreman patrolling the timberland including the 14 protected areas (PAs). Five of these Pas are legislated and eight are under the initial component of Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas (E-NIPAS). The teams have patrolled a total of 8,745.65 kilometers for CY 2019.

“The presence of the Lawin Patrollers in the forest areas serve as deterrent to illegal activities. It heightened the protection of our rich natural resources in the region,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.###

Animal carcasses are a sad sight for animal lovers and for the advocates for the protection and conservation of species.

On January 2, 2020, a female Green sea turtle was found dead in the shores of a resort in Boracay Island. A week later, another sea turtle was found dead in Cauayan, Negros Occidental.

The carcass of the first sea turtle was found off the shore of Fairways and Bluewaterin Boracay Island. It was fairly decomposedwith its organs coming out from its carapace. According to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Boracay Island which conducted the investigation, the death of the turtle may have been caused by the propellers of boats or ships that crashed on its back causing its carapace to splitinto half.

On January 13, the severely decomposed carcass of another female Green sea turtlewas found on the shores of the coastal town of Brgy. Tuyom, Cauayan, Negros Occidental after an overpowering smell alarmed its residents. The turtle’s carapace measured 90 cm.long and 75 cm. wide.CENRO Kabankalan personnel observed discoloration on its carapace and flippers, and it organs were not intact.
Both carcasses were buried after investigation.

Although the deathof marine animals, especially turtles,and grave threats to their existenceare traced to injuries from propellers of boats and ships, human factors are also a culprit. People kill turtles for their eggs and carapace which are sold as for souvenirs, marine animals to get tangled in fishing nets and ingest plastic debris.

Green sea turtles (Cheloniamydas) are one of the world’s largest species of turtle that can live up to 80 years in the wild if not harmed. They feed on marine plants such as seaweeds and sea grass. They are considered endangered (E) by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

"The Department of Environment and Natural Resources supports the protection and conservation of our marine animals. It is a grieving moment to knowthat some of the marine animal species die in a violent way. We, however, continue with our conservation efforts to boost the turtle population by protecting their hatching areas.I therefore encourage all to stop throwing garbage into oceans because they slowly but surely kill our marine animals especially turtles," said DENR Region 6 Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.#DENR6

 Approved for release:

 FRANCISCO E. MILLA, JR., CESO III

Regional Executive Director