Press Releases

Despite incessant rains the evening before, volunteers showed up in various cleanup sites in Metro Manila to join the observance of the 34th installment of the International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) on Saturday, 21 September, 2019.

DENR-NCR Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan was glad with the turnout of volunteers as it shows that the public now is much more aware of the importance of their participation in cleanups, especially in the context of the on-going implementation of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Project.

“The number of volunteers who participated this year only proves that Metro Manilans do have an increased sense of awareness and readiness to fulfill their civic duties”, RED Caancan said.

The volunteers this year came from different national government agencies—including the agencies subject of the Writ of Mandamus issued by the Supreme Court—local government units (LGUs), business sector, and civil society organizations.

RED Caancan said that the ICC this year is very timely as it enabled DENR, through its partner organizations and volunteers, to gather much needed data on pollution loading in Manila Bay. The ICC requires volunteers to act as “citizen scientists” and record the trash they have recovered in standardized data forms. The data collected will then be compiled by DENR National Capital Region and presented to Sec. Roy A. Cimatu and the Manila Bay Task Force for reference in crafting plans and programs.

The data will later be submitted to the Ocean Conservancy, the Washington based non-profit organization that started the ICC, for validation and publication.

There were six (6) major clean-up sites for the ICC this year. These are the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA); SM By the Bay and the shores of Gloria Maris inside the CPP Complex in Pasay City; the riverbanks of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila, and the aplaya or beach area of Baseco in Tondo, Manila which served as the main clean-up site.

The Baseco clean-up is in partnership with the City of Manila.

Gracing the activity are Environment and Natural Resources Committee Chair, Senator Cynthia A. Villar; MMDA Chairman Danilo Lim; Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, and Undersecretary for Field Operations, Ground Commander of Manila Bay Task Force and Supervising Undersecretary for Manila Bay Coordinating Office Atty. Juan Miguel T. Cuna.

In addition, DENR National Capital Region, led the conduct of simultaneous cleanups of a number esteros and creeks in Metro Manila in coordination with the concerned local government units.

These are in the Bangkulasi River in Navotas City; Batasan River in Malabon City; Tunasan River and Sucat-Buli River in Muntinlupa City; Sto. Rosario River, Sta. Ana River, Panday-Paltok River and Pateros River in Pateros; Lower Bicutan Creek in Taguig City; Maricaban Creek in Pasay City; Estero de Tripa de Gallina in Paranaque City; Kalayaan-Kasunduan Creek and Tullahan River (Nova Proper) in Quezon City; Daang Paa Creek in Pasig City; Tumana Creek in Marikina City; and, Lingunan Creek, Veinte Reales Creek, De Castro Creek, Marulas Creek, and Dulong Tangke Creek in Valenzuela City

Last year’s ICC in Metro Manila was able to gather around 7,000 volunteers and collected a total of 5,918 sacks containing 355,071 pieces of trash from all cleanup sites. Topping the type of trash collected are food wrappers, and other plastic pieces.

DENR-NCR hopes to do better this year and recover more trash from Manila Bay.

The ICC is held every third Saturday of September in the Philippines, in keeping with Presidential Proclamation No. 470, series of 2003.

DENR National Capital Region led a simultaneous tree planting activity on Tuesday, 25 June 2019, at Baseco compound in Tondo, Manila and in different Metro Manila-based campuses of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP).

The regional office, in partnership with the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC), and other mandamus agencies and civil society organizations, planted mangrove trees and other salt-tolerant plants in the beach area of Baseco as a phytoremediation measure. This will help improve water quality and contribute to efforts in cleaning and rehabilitating Manila Bay. “Phytoremediation”, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), “is the efficient use of plants to remove, detoxify or immobilise environmental contaminants in soil, water or sediments through the natural biological, chemical or physical activities and processes of the plants”. 

Meanwhile, around 6,000 seedlings—composed mainly of indigenous and native species—were planted by students and faculty members of PUP. The tree planting was done in its main campus in Sta. Mesa, Manila, and in its branches in Parañaque City, San Juan City, Taguig City, and Quezon City.  The plants will not only help improve air quality in the campus but beautify the area and reduce stress to faculty and students.

The activity is the highlight of DENR National Capital Region’s celebration of Philippine Environment Month (PEM) and Philippines Arbor Day (PAD) respectively. The theme of the celebration is “Grow More Trees, Beat Air Pollution” to emphasize the important role of trees in reducing air pollution among other environmental concerns.

DENR National Capital Region Regional Executive Director Jacqueline A. Caancan hopes that the public will be more involved in planting more trees and help in the care of existing ones. “Congested as it is, Metro Manila will benefit more with increased green spaces”, RED Caancan explained. “More trees would mean improved air and water quality, cooler temperatures, enhanced biodiversity, and increased value of property here in Metro Manila” she added.

According to Breathe Life Network—a UN led global campaign to bring air pollution to safe levels by 2030—the air that we breathe in Metro Manila is “70 percent” above the safe level set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5.  PM 2.5 are ultrafine airborne particles that penetrate deep into the lungs when inhaled. These are known to cause heart attacks, strokes, asthma, and bronchitis, as well as premature death from heart ailments, lung disease, and cancer. Studies have likewise shown that higher PM 2.5 exposure can impair brain development in children. 

The most common source of air pollutants in Metro Manila according to the Environmental Management Bureau-National Capital Region (EMB-NCR) is “mobile sources” or motor vehicles. Data shows that “88% of air pollution come from emission of

motor vehicles and other engines and equipment that can be moved from one location to another”.

These pollutants, however, could have been absorbed if there were more trees in Metro Manila. Sadly, as the population of the region grow bigger by the year, more land has been converted into housing and infrastructure. As a result, the green spaces of Metro Manila has shrunk in proportion.

“The challenge for us here in Metro Manila”, says RED Caancan, “is finding innovative ways to maximize our existing green spaces. This may be done by planting fast-growing trees that are suited to an urban setting and known to be effective in fighting air and water pollution”. Given our limited space, “we must invest more on green roofs and walls and convert whatever space available to us into pockets of greens”.

PEM is celebrated in June of every year by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 237, s-1998 while PAD is celebrated every 25th of June by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 396, s-2003 as amended.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), led an early morning cleanup activity today (25 May 2019) at Baseco beach and gathered some 1,973 volunteers from the public and youth sectors.

Dubbed as ‘Free Baseco from Marine Debris Clean-up Activity,’ the cleanup covered the one-kilometer stretch of Baseco beach.

Today’s activity served as a follow up from last February’s cleanup on the same area that was also initiated by DENR Assistant Secretary Joan A. Lagunda, D.M. in support to the Manila Bay rehabilitation project.

The following government and non government agencies partnered with the DENR on the cleanup activity: Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Manila Bay SUNSET Partnership Program Incorporated, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission, National Youth Commission, Bureau of Fire Protection, Philippine Coast Guard, Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary Corps, National Bureau of Investigation, Department of Public Service – City of Manila, Task Force Tayo ang Kalikasan, Reservists from the Philippine Army, Philippine Navy, Philippine Marines, Sangguniang Kabataan, Youth Leaders, EMB Greenducators, Maynilad, Confederate Sentinels of God, and other civil society groups.

MMDA is the ground commander for Metro Manila in relation to the on-going rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

The clean-up is in line with the observance of the Month of the Ocean (MOO). This year marks the 20th anniversary of the issuance of Presidential Proclamation No. 57, declaring May as Month of the Ocean.

MOO is an annual environmental event meant to draw people’s attention to the importance of our coastal and marine resources and the need to protect it from unsustainable fishing practices and resource use.

The theme for this year’s MOO is “Free the Seas from Marine Debris”, to highlight the issue of plastic pollution and its impact on marine wildlife and habitats.

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu expressed hope the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) would receive the P3.036 billion additional funding it needed to bankroll three crucial programs the agency will start to implement next year.

“We are hopeful the budget augmentation will be included in the final version of the 2020 General Appropriations Bill (GAB) to be passed by Congress—the House of Representatives and the Senate—and signed into law by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte,” Cimatu said.

The proposed funding increase includes P1.2 billion for the Enforcement Bureau; P1.8 billion for the full implementation of the Republic Act No. 11038 or the “Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018” ; and P36 million for land titling.

During the budget deliberation at the House Appropriations Committee held last September 6, both the Majority and Minority blocs threw their support behind Cimatu’s plans to create an Enforcement Bureau with the assurance that they would push for the augmentation of the DENR budget during the bicameral conference on the 2020 GAB.

He explained that with its own Enforcement Bureau, the DENR could effectively enforce environmental laws and protect its workers who have been the vicious targets of illegal loggers and other environmental criminals.

The environment chief made the appeal a few days after Bienvenido Veguilla Jr., a DENR forest ranger, was brutally killed by suspected illegal loggers in El Nido, Palawan.

The deliberation likewisetackled the need for the additional funds for the full implementation of and the acceleration of land titling and distribution of public lands.

Last Sept. 20, the House approved on third and final reading the P4.1-trillion national budget for 2020, including the P25.5 billion allocation for the DENR which is 16 percent higher than the P21.96 billion it got for this year.

The Senate had already started its own review of the government’s spending plan for next year and is expected to come up with its own version of the GAB.

“We are hoping that the DENR would get the same extent of support from the senators just like their counterparts in the House when they meet at the bicameral conference committee,” Cimatu said.

“Representatives crossed party lines in casting their support,” Cimatu said, referring to the commitment of support given by House Majority Floor leader Martin Romualdez, House Minority leader Manila 6th District Rep. BienvenidoAbante Jr., and independent opposition Albay 1st District Rep. EdcelLagman.

At the deliberations, Romualdez assured Cimatu of joining “the minority in the proposals to support the department all out” in response to Abante’s assurance of the minority block’s support to the DENR’s appeal to increase its proposed 2020 budget

“Kung hindi pa kayo masyadong Masaya dyan, andito po kami,” Abante said, responding to Cimatu’s appeal on the need to increase the proposed DENR P25.5 budget.

For his part, Lagman said that “the independent minority will join the majority” in pushing for the increase in the DENR’s budget.

“Mr. Chairman. At the proper time, if the Majority in the Committee or at the Plenary would consider a justified augmentation of the proposed budget of the DENR, the independent opposition will join the majority in making this allocation,” Lagman said.

The DENR—through Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones—submitted to Congress the proposed augmentation budget of the agency last Sept. 16.

In a letter addressed to House Deputy Speaker Luis Raymund Villafuerte, Leones said the DENR would need P1.2 billion for the establishment and initial operation of the proposed Enforcement Bureau in 2020.

Leones said the agency would also need P1.8 billion for the full implementation of E-NIPAS law, and P36 million to fast track the issuance of titles for alienable and disposable public lands.

According to Leones, the creation of an Enforcement Bureau within the DENR is in line with the Duterte administration’s 10-point socioeconomic agenda, particularly peace and order, as it would enable the department to “fully implement and enforce laws on environment and natural resources (ENR) with full authority to police illegal loggers and ENR violators.”

The DENR official also cited the need for “full logistic support” for the implementation of the E-NIPAS law and the acceleration of public land distribution.

“Still, under the 10-point agenda of the President, to be specific, is to ‘ensure security of land tenure’ to encourage investments and address bottlenecks in land management and titling,” Leones pointed out.

The E-NIPAS law expands NIPAS Act of 1992 to cover broader range of protected areas (PAs) safeguarded under the law. The new law adds 94 more legislated PAs in the country, and bolsters the security of previously declared PAs.

The law allows the DENR to strengthen the management of PAs, which are widely considered essential for biodiversity conservation. PAs are frequently home to irreplaceable and threatened species. ###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has announced the temporary suspension of all dragon boat race activities in Boracay in the wake of a deadly accident that claimed the lives of seven members of a local-based dragon boat group.

Cimatu, who chairs the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), said that such activities are “postponed for the time being until emergency protocols are thoroughly scrutinized.”

“We are temporarily suspending all dragon boat race activities in Boracay, including practice and training, until we have assessed their practice protocols,” Cimatu said.

All agencies involved in emergency rescue and response are scheduled to meet on Monday, Sept. 30 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of protocols, logistics and resources, and to come up with recommendations to address gaps subject to the approval of the BIATF.

These agencies include the local government of Malay and its Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, the local dragon boat associations and other water sports associations in the Philippines.

On Sept. 25, seven members of the Boracay Dragon Force died, while 14 others were injured when the boat they were rowing capsized off Boracay Island. The group was then training for an upcoming international competition in Taiwan.

Upon learning of the incident, Cimatu expressed his sympathy to the victims and their families, as he promised that emergency response programs will be strengthened in Boracay to prevent a similar incident in the future.

According to reports, the boat capsized after it was hit by large swells of waves originating from the sudden violent gusts of wind before the dragon boat racers reached the third bay of Tulubhan Beach in Barangay Manocmanoc.

Members of the team were not wearing life vests during that time, while one of the paddlers did not know how to swim, the reports added.

The local government of Malay, Aklan and partner agencies have extended their support to the bereaved families by offering them services, such as financial assistance, stress debriefing, cadaver management, and security. ###