Regional Releases

The Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area (NOCWCA), the 7thRamsar Site in the Philippines, was the venue of the World Wetlands Day celebration on January 30 with the theme “Wetlands and Biodiversity.”

NOCWCA covers the municipalities of Pulupandan, Valladolid, San Enrique, Pontevedra, Hinigaran, Binalbagan, Ilog and the cities of Bago, Kabankalan and Himamaylan. It has one of the richest and most diverse coastal resources, particularly mangroves and is the habitat of economically important species such as oysters, green mussels, nylon shells, angel wings shells, shrimps and crabs.
The NOCWA is also an abode to three species of globally threatened marine turtles such as Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricate)considered as critically endangered; Green sea turtle (Cheloniamydas)which is endangered; and Olive Ridley turtle (Lepidochelysolivacea)classified as vulnerableby the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. The endangered Irrawaddy dolphin(Orcaellabrevirostris), migrates across its coastal areas at a certain period during the year.
The celebration aimed to draw attention in promoting biodiversity conservation and its importance in the ecosystem. Activities for the event includedbird watching during the early hours of the day in the wetlands of San Enrique, lectures and audio visual presentations on the importance of wetlands and on sustaining the use of natural resources. Another bird watching activity was donebefore dusk.
The participants converged at San Enrique, Negros Occidental and were accompanied by a bird field guide to spot the different species of waterbirds using a spotting scope and binoculars.

The NOCWCA is also a haven for at least 73 species of waterbirds flocking in its prolific wetlands,including the five globally threatened and two globally near-threatened species. Recently, it has three additional species namely the Eurasian oystercatcher (Haematopusostralegus), Eurasian wigeons(Anaspenelope) and the world’s most critically endangered shorebird species, the Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Callidrispygmea).
Wetlands are areas covered by water. They play a vital role in the regulation of global nitrogen cycle and serve as a carbon sink. They help in mitigating climate change and reduce risks and hazards from tsunamis, storm surges and cyclones.
In addition, they support biological diversity and arerecognized as the most productive habitats on earthbecause of their vegetative surface for aquatic plants that support diverse kinds of life.
Although wetlands are in peril due to human or natural occurrences, there’s a hope to restore and protect those that remain.
“It is important to protect and preserve our wetlands here in Western Visayas, not only because it is home to wide range species of plants and water animals, but to sustain the livelihood of people that live near the wetlands,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.
He added that wetlands help keep the water quality cleanby filtering chemicals from agricultural runoff before they reach the open water.
Wetlands protection and conservation supports the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, and is one of the top ten priority programs of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.#DENR6

A total of forty birds sold near the Pagadian City Public Market were rescued through a joint operation between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources 9 and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Maritime 9 on January 17, 2020.

The team was able to confiscate 38 heads of Java Sparrow, one (1) Scaly-breasted Munia and one (1) White-eared Brown-dove sold by two brothers aged 19 and 14, residents of Barangay Gubac, Pagadian City. The Java Sparrow is classified as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature or IUCN.

DENR 9 Regional Executive Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez said these wildlife are not supposed to be domesticated or kept as pets. “Mere possession of wildlife is a violation of RA 9147 otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act or the Philippine Wildlife Act,” added Rodriguez.

Trading of wildlife and collecting, hunting and possessing of wildlife, their by-products and derivatives are illegal acts under Chapter 4 of RA 9147.

Since one of the violators is a minor, the two brothers were released after signing an agreement that formal charges will be filed against them should they repeat the same offense.

After a thorough physical assessment of the birds in the DENR 9 Regional Wildlife Rescue Center in Tukuran, Zamboanga del Sur, these were declared in good health and were subsequently released in Barangay Mahayahay, Pagadian City, where the offenders captured the said birds.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources - MIMAROPA Region concluded the first Protected Area Superintendents’ (PASu) Conference held in Sibuyan Island, Romblon on January 20-24, 2020.
The activity forms part of the initiatives of the regional office to regularly train and capacitate field office frontliners particularly the PASUs who are considered the chief operating officers and personnel primarily accountable for the management and operation of the protected areas.

“It is just apt to hold this conference for our PASUs since MIMAROPA is one of the regions with the most number of protected areas in the country. We look forward to having more equipped and rejuvenated protected area personnel after this conference,” DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornando remarked.

The conference included case studies and analysis, plenary discussions on actual situations in protected areas (PAs) relative to ecotourism, sustainable financing, law enforcement, and PA management. There was also a discussion on the UNESCO World Heritage Site Inscription Process, as well as a presentation of the best practices in the PAs of MIMAROPA and other regions. Games, exercises, icebreakers and workshops were designed to challenge the physical, mental, social and emotional capacities of the participants.

In addition, a site visit led by PASu Forester Malvin Rocerowas conducted in Mt. Guiting-guiting Natural Park (MGGNP) in Sibuyan Island to showcase its best practices. The practical experiential learning included visits to areas within the administrative jurisdiction of the LGUs, and ecotourism sites including Lambingan Falls and Cantingas River.

There was also engagement with multi-sectoral forest protection committee members, and orientation on the status of DENR-funded projects, such as vermicomposting of the Romblon State University and handicraft making of Cabitangahan-Talaba CARP Association. The field experience concluded with an “Amazing Race” held in the MGGNP PAMO Complex, and with an evening event showcasing talents from the municipality ofMagdiwang in Sibuyan Island, Romblon.

During the conference, Plaques of Appreciation were awarded to the chief executives of Sibuyan Island including Magdiwang Mayor Arthur Tansiongco, San Fernando Mayor Salem Tansingco and Cajidiocan Mayor Nicasio Ramos for their unwavering support and cooperation in the conservation and protection activities of MGGNP. On October 29, 2019, a ceremonial signing of a Memorandum of Agreement was forged between DENR MIMAROPA represented by RED Adornado and the Sibuyan local executives who pledged to provide financial support amounting to P500,000.00 each, for the conservation and protection of MGGNP.

MGGNP is one of the protected areas legislated under Republic Act No. 11038 or the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018. It is situated within the three municipalities of Sibuyan Island - Magdiwang, San Fernando, Cajidiocan. It is home to various endangered and endemic species of flora and fauna, and is referred as the Galapagos of Asia for its endemism and densest forest ever recorded.

Around 50 participants including Assistant PASUs and Protected Area Management (PAMO) personnel from the regional and field offices participated in the event. Also present were Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Dr. Vicente Tuddao, Jr., resource persons from Biodiversity Management Bureau, namely Ecosystems Management Specialist (ECOMS) II JennelynAseguradoand ECOMS II John JobertBandol; and PASus from other regions, namely PASu Emerita Albas of Mount Pulag Natural Park from CAR and PASu Daniel Somera of Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park from Region 10.###


A total of 2,610waterbirds were seen flocking in five wetlands in Iloilo during the Annual Waterbird Census conducted by the Guimbal Wildlife Conservation Section and Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Unit of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO).

Different migratory waterbirds with diverse colors and features were sighted in the wetlands located in the Barangays of Sooc and San Jose in Arevalo District, Hinactacan in La Paz District, Bitoon in JaroDistrict and atKatunggan Park inSitioPanus-on, Nabitasan, Leganes on January 4 and 7-10.

The team of CENRO Guimbal used binoculars and a spotting scope to sight and count the migratory waterbirdswhich look for a temporary habitat to feed and breed in order to save their own species.
Migratory birds are often threatened by human activities such as the conversion of ecosystems for development purposes. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) closely work with organizations of bird watchers and other wildlife enthusiasts to protect migratory bird sites.

Twenty-five species of migratory birds took their annual escape from the winter in temperate regions. These include the Black-winged Stilt, Purple Heron, Whistling Duck, Marsh Sandpiper, Javan Pond Heron, Common Kingfisher, Whiskered Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Little Egret, Intermediate Egret.

Other migratory birds are the White-browed Crake, Moorhen, Whimbrel, White- collared Kingfisher, Sea Collared Kingfisher, Redshank, Common Greenshank, Grey Heron, Plover, Wood Sandpiper, Philippine Duck, Northern Pintail, Wandering Whistling-duck, Asian House Martin and Osprey.

In the Philippines, the peak months for birds migrating to the south are usually during September to November. Those travelling to the north migrate between February and April.
Wetlands play various roles in the protection of our environment by reducing the impacts of floods, absorbing pollutants and improving water quality. They serve as a safe haven for different species of migratory birds in search for their food, temporary home and breeding grounds.

Wetlands are also rich in natural resources. It also protects the birds as well as the people in the community. “It is important to conserve the wetlands as they become a transitory abode to migratory birds. We aim for more prolific wetlands that may incline migration of birds to the areas,” said Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 6 adding that wetlands can be ecotourism attractions in the City of Love. /DENR6

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources - MIMAROPA Region, and the local government unit of San Jose in Occidental Mindoro joined forces to intensify environment protection efforts through a MOA-signing activity establishing the municipality as a local chapter of Tayo Ang Kalikasan (TAK) on January 10 at Seasons Hotel.

As the local chapter of TAK, San Jose shall strengthen through an ordinance it previously issued, waste segregation at source and prohibition of disposable or single-use plastics including plastic bags, utensils, cups, straws, and stirrers. The ordinance aims to reduce the volume of plastic wastes that eventually pollute portions of the Mangarin Bay and Pandurucan River, the town’s treasured bodies of water.

Data from river and coastal cleanup drives held during last year’s World Water Day in March and International Coastal Cleanup on September showed that plastics and plastic debris were still among the top wastes collected in Mangarin and Pandurucan. Aside from these, there are also plastic wastes in the 24 to 25 tons of trash generated by the town everyday.

As TAK chapter, it is envisioned that San Jose would be able to prevent degradation of the environment caused by plastic pollution.

TAK is the DENR’s campaign that engages communities as partners in addressing environmental issues and challenges. El Nido in Palawan and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro were also launched as TAK local chapters to improve solid waste management amid the islands’ ongoing rehabilitation.

“We are often reminded by Secretary Roy Cimatu that environment protection is not only the duty of the DENR or the LGU. It is everybody’s responsibility to take care of nature,” DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado stated.

Reeling from the effects of Typhoon Ursula, the municipality of San Jose, led by Mayor Romulo Festin, welcomed the endeavor and showed its support by gathering close to 130 residents and leaders of barangays, partner agencies, the academe and non-government organizations in the capacity building and stakeholders’ forum held after the MOA signing.

“Kaisa tayo ng DENR sa pag-aayos ng ating kapaligiran. At bahagi ito ng ating tungkulin bilang Mayor, Barangay Captain, o Kagawad,” Mayor Festin said. Stressing the role of the LGU in implementing various environmental rules and regulations, such as RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, and the corresponding penalties awaiting those who fail to fulfill their duties, the municipal chief said, “Pag hindi tayo kumilos, may nag-iintay sa atin sa Ombudsman.”

During the workshop, the DENR and EMB MIMAROPA presented major environmental problems--other than solids waste--that beset the historical municipality of San Jose: the failing water quality of Mangarin Bay and Pandurucan River; and violation of easement zones.

Based on water samples tested for fecal coliform, some portions of Mangarin Bay exceeded the allowable standard of 100 most probable number (mpn) for Class SB water per DENR Administrative Order 2016-08.

Though Pandurucan shall be subject to coliform test this year, its heavily silted and foul smelling water, the presence of informal settlers and pig pens that discharge wastes directly into the river, suggest the river may not meet Class B classification which means it is intended for primary contact recreation such as bathing and swimming.

“Perhaps some people may be able to tolerate the water. But considering the evident state of the river, those who are swimming or bathing in it are putting themselves at high risk,” Provincial Environment and Management Officer Alexander Coden explained.

Besides water pollution, the DENR and the LGU also identified the presence of commercial and residential establishments encroaching easement zones, violating the Water Code of the Philippines which prohibits occupation of river banks, sea shores and lakes within a zone of three meters in urban areas, 20 meters in alienable and disposable (A&D) land; and 40 meters in forest areas.

“We found illegal structures in Brgys. Caminawit, San Roque, Bubog, Poblacion III, Poblacion IV, Pag-asa and Bagong Sikat. There is a clear violation of the law that needs to be corrected in order for us to restore the environment,” CENRO Efren Delos Reyes of San Jose remarked.

For its part, the LGU has taken initial steps to clear the easement zones. It has started demolition of eight restaurants and bars built along the 20-meter easement in Brgy. San Roque. Two more establishments are up for demolition in the coming week.

The DENR is also set to finalize inventory of households and businesses occupying the buffer zones, which shall be issued Notices to Vacate. Should the occupants fail to demolish their structures or vacate the area, they shall be recommended for demolition by the LGU.

The implementation of these activities took off from the efforts of task forces established to rehabilitate prime tourist destinations in the country such as Boracay and Manila Bay. Likewise from El Nido, Coron, Puerto Princesa and San Vicente in Palawan, and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, which are all located in MIMAROPA Region. These activities shall likewise form part of the job of newly created Task Force for Occidental Mindoro headed by OIC- PENRO Ernesto Tanada. The Task Force shall spearhead the rehabilitation of problematic areas in San Jose.

“Definitely, many residents and business owners will be affected. But we do hope that they will fully understand that we are doing this to restore what has been damaged; to help them realize that they are also stewards of nature, and eventually for all of us to enjoy the blessings of nature, and bequeath to future generations, a healthy and clean environment,” RED Adornado noted.

“During the workshop, we have seen representatives from various sectors in the community who are more than willing to take active part in cleaning Mangarin Bay and Pandurucan River,” said Assistant Regional Director Vicente Tuddao, Jr. who facilitated the workshop.

“With that, we are positive that we have already hit the ground running to restore the town’s problematic areas. We look forward to seeing the municipality of San Jose as one of the country’s cleanest and best island destinations,” he concluded. (Photos from CENRO San Jose) ###