DENR through History
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) traces its historical roots from as far back as the time of Spanish rule in the Philippines. In 1863, a Royal Decree was issued by the Spanish authorities creating the Inspeccion General de Montes, the first Forestry Service in the country. The main task of this colonial agency was to protect the forests in the Philippines and regulate timber cutting. And consistent with its mandate, the Inspeccion was able to preserve the forested areas in various islands of the Philippines because, at that time, the only trading that existed was the galleon trade which focused on agricultural products. Likewise, demand for timber was insignificant during that period. Included however in the other functions and responsibilities of the agency are several concerns related to the management of a wide range of natural resources, such as forest inventory and protection, land classification, watershed protection, water, biodiversity and mineral resources conservation, making it the real progenitor of the modern-day DENR.
AMERICAN PERIOD-COMMONWEALTH ERA
During the American regime, the U.S. Military Governor in the Philippines issued General Order No. 50 on April 14, 1900 and reorganized the “Inspeccion”, renaming it as the Forestry Bureau. A year after, the Forestry Bureau was placed under the Department of Interior created under Philippine Commission Act No. 222 that was enacted on September 16, 1901. The Department of Interior existed for more than a decade until it was abolished on November 18, 1916 by virtue of Reorganization Act No. 2666. In its place, the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) was created. The DANR took “direct executive control, direction and supervision of the Bureau of Agriculture, Bureau of Forestry, Bureau of Lands, Bureau of Science and the Weather Bureau and all matters concerning hunting, fisheries, sponges and other sea products and such others as may be hereafter assigned to it by law”. In 1932, a new reorganization act was passed, providing for the renaming of DANR to the Department of Agriculture and Commerce (DAC) and the addition of other bureaus to its organizational structure.
The DAC underwent several organizational changes from 1938 up to the outbreak of World War II in 1941. And during the Japanese occupation, the Department was annexed to the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce of the Japanese Imperial Army. After the war in 1945, the government took on the task of rebuilding the country and reconstituted many agencies including the DAC. Two years later, a reorganization act was implemented and the DAC was renamed the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR). However, a number of its bureaus were transferred to the newly created Department of Commerce and Industry (DCI) while some line offices were placed directly under the Office of the President.
MARTIAL LAW YEARS
From 1954-1974, the reconstituted DANR did not undergo significant changes. But with the issuance of Presidential Decree No. 461 on May 17, 1974, the Department was split into two, namely, the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR absorbed the following line bureaus and agencies: Bureau of Forest Development (BFD), Bureau of Mines (BM); Bureau of Lands (BL); Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), National Committee for Mineral Exploration and Survey Operations (NACOMESCO), Presidential Committee on Wood Industries Development (PCWID), Fishery Industry Development Council (FIDC), Surigao Mineral Reservations Board (SMRB), and the Presidential Action Committee on Land Problems (PACLAP). Following the shift of the country into a parliamentary form of government in 1978 however, the DNR became the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). The only notable changes in the MNR at that time was the transfer of the concerns on fish and fishery agriculture to the Ministry of Agriculture in 1985, leaving the agency with only three line bureaus (among other attached agencies).
1986 TO PRESENT
Then came the 1st EDSA Revolution in 1986. Under the new democratic regime, the MNR was abolished with the issuance of Executive Order No. 131 on January 30, 1987. E.O. 131 created the Department of Energy, Environment and Natural Resources (DEENR). Not long after, the DEENR was reorganized anew and became the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that we know today. Executive Order No. 192, issued on June 10, 1897, served as the legal basis for the reorganization. Under the E.O., the Department was given the mandate to exercise supervision over the environment and natural resources concerns of the whole country through its national and regional offices.
The present-day National Capital Region (NCR) office of the DENR is the result of the integration of the regional offices of the Bureaus of Forest Development (BFD) and Lands (BL); the research centers of Forest Research Institute (FRI); and the transferred functions and resources of the National Pollution Control Commission (NPCC). It first held office at El-Al Building along Quezon Avenue, Barangay Tatalon Quezon City with Pedro C. Hipolito as Regional Executive Director. Since then, DENR-NCR has had the opportunity in being led by ten (10) male and five (5) female Regional Executive Directors.
PAST REGIONAL EXECUTIVE DIRECTORS OF DENR-NCR