Press Releases

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has welcomed President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s order transferring the chairmanship of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Cimatu said the presidential directive would help ensure timely and effective implementation of various initiatives geared towards the rehabilitation of the heavily polluted Manila Bay.

“We are thankful to the President for trusting us once again with the responsibility of cleaning up Pasig River. Indeed, this is timely for our goal in rehabilitating Manila Bay,” said Cimatu, who chairs the inter-agency Manila Bay Task Force (MBTF) in charge of restoring the historic bay to its former glory.

Cimatu assured the President and the public that the DENR will do its best to rehabilitate Pasig River as part of its mandate to protect, conserve and sustainably manage the environment.

“We at the DENR would like to reassure our fellow Filipinos of our dedication and commitment in cleaning up Pasig River in line with our mandate as a government agency,” Cimatu said.

President Duterte recently issued Executive Order (EO) No. 90 transferring the chairmanship of the PRRC to the DENR, citing the need for “close coordination and oversight” of cleanup efforts and rehabilitation of major waterways in Metro Manila, given that the DENR heads the MBTF.

With the transfer of the PRRC chairmanship to the DENR, Cimatu said the agency will be more effective in complying with the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.

“It will make cleaning the esteros along the river more effective, as there will be greater coordination among the key people involved,” Cimatu said.

Pasig River is the water body that connects Laguna Lake and Manila Bay, making it an important part of the rehabilitation of the historic bay.

The DENR aims to reduce the fecal coliform level in Manila Bay to 100 most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100ml).

“Cleaning up the esteros and tributaries along Pasig River will help the DENR achieve these targets,” Cimatu pointed out.

Earlier, Cimatu said the government will target the source of water pollution in an effort to rehabilitate, restore and maintain the bay to a level fit for swimming, as mandated in the mandamus issued by the Supreme Court in 2008.

In that high court ruling, the DENR and 12 other government agencies were tasked to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay for the enjoyment of present and future generations.###

The legal team of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) provided free legal assistance to residents of Barangay SipacAlmacen in Navotas City during their clean up activity held recently.

The DENR Legal Affairs Service (LAS) gave free legal counseling to the estero cleanup volunteers in exchange for their participation in the cleanup activity held in the barangay’s esteros and coastline that contribute to pollution in Manila Bay.

Known as the seat of power of the City Government of Navotas, SipacAlmacen is bounded in the west by Manila Bay and in the east by the highly polluted Malabon-Navotas River. The rehabilitation of the said river system was assigned to the cluster headed by DENR Undersecretaries Ernesto D. Adobo Jr,.and Benny D. Antiporda, and Assistant Secretary Jesus Moises Enrico B. Salazar.

To encourage more people to join the cleanup, LAS Director NorlitoEneran said they established a legal clinic where participating residents could avail of free legal advice.

The activity carried the theme: “Payo pang-legal angalayko, ‘pagbasuramolinisin mo.”

“Participants were given a coupon for every sack of garbage collected, which entitled them to free legal counseling,” Eneran explained.

The LAS staff members were joined by lawyers from the DENR Lawyers Guild Inc., the Malabon-Navotas Chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, and the Public Attorneys Office in Quezon City in providing free legal consultation to the participants.

The LAS-led cleanup drive formed part of the overall effort dubbed as “Battle for Manila Bay,” which is being supervised by the inter-agency task force led by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

Adobo said the gargantuan task to bring Manila Bay back to its former glory requires the active participation of all sectors, not just the government.

“Our agency will take the lead role in the Battle for Manila Bay which, Secretary Cimatu assessed,has to begin with the Battle for the Rivers and Esteros that drain into Manila Bay,” Adobo said.

Antiporda, who serves as the DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns, lauded Eneran and the rest of the LAS for coming up with the concept of providing free legal counseling to cleanup drive participants.

“I commend Director Eneran for initiating this activity,” Antiporda said. “I had availed the services of lawyers for legal problems, but I never imagined engaging lawyers to clean the garbage of Manila Bay.”

For his part, Salazar called on the residents within the Malabon-Navotas river system to take part in the cleanup activity which, he said, would benefit them and all other Manila Bay stakeholders.

“We need to be responsible for our environment for the enjoyment of present and future generations,” Salazar added.

Every division under the LAS is assigned to one barangay along the Malabon-Navotas river system. A focal person from each division is designated to coordinate with their counterparts in the community.

Each group submitted a proposed plan of activities, which include a cleanup drive; information and education campaign; enforcement of environmental laws; and monitoring and evaluation. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), together with the municipal government of General Tinio in Nueva Ecija province and other stakeholders, recently completed its annual tree-planting activities in Sierra Madre in a bid to save what remains of the mountain range’s dwindling forest cover.

The participants to the Sierra Madre Greening Program spent four days since July to plant trees at the site of the Upper Tabuating Small Reservior Irrigation Project. The tree-planting activities were held on July 14 and 26 and August 3 and 16, pursuant to the 21-year-old “Adopt-A-Mountain Program” under DENR Administrative Order No. 98-62.

Aside from the local government of General Tinio, the DENR was also joined in the undertaking by participants from the National Irrigation Administration, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and the Rotary Clubs of Makati Rockwell, Makati EDSA and SanFrancisco del Monte, Quezon City.

The tree-planting activities were also in accordance with the DENR’s ISO 14001:2015 certification which requires the continuous rehabilitation and reforestation of degraded forest areas.

In 2015, the DENR became the first institution or agency in the country to receive the ISO 14001:2015 certificate from the ISO, an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from national standard organizations of over 140 member-countries.

Since then, the ISO has been reissuing the certification to the agency based on the recommendation of the Philippine arm of Standard Global Services (SGS), the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification firm.

ISO 14001 is an internationally agreed standard that sets out the requirements for an environmental management system. It helps organizations improve their environmental performance through more efficient use of resources and reduction of waste, gaining a competitive advantage and the trust of stakeholders.

The tree planting activity, led by DENR Internal Audit Service Director Rolando Castro, will help to reforest Sierra Madre that supplies water to Angat Dam, the main source of water of Metro Manila.

For his part, General Tinio Mayor Isidro Pajarillaga expressed his gratitude to the DENR and others who took part in the tree-planting activity.

“I consider everyone who planted a tree here today as heroes,” Pajarillaga said. “This is the start of a beautiful aspiration for our environment.”

Other participants to the tree-planting activities include delegates from Guardians-Nueva Ecija Chapter, students and residents from Barangay Nazareth, and local officials from other municipalities and cities in Nueva Ecija. ###

Environment officials, scientists, and researchers in Southeast Asia have agreed to establish a regional network that will explore the vast potential of bamboo for environmental sustainability and economic resiliency in the midst of climate change.

The establishment of the ASEAN Bamboo Network was the most prominent feature of the resolution adopted by participants to the first-ever ASEAN Bamboo Congress held in Iloilo City from August 12 to 16.

Organized by the Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the five-day event brought together government officials, scientists and researchers within the ASEAN region, as well as representatives from the World Bamboo Organization, Brazil, Qatar and Peru.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu described the resolution as a “decisive output” of the conference as it enabled formal commitment of the signatories towards “a sustainable and climate resilient future for the entire region.”

“With this resolution, we are assuring that we will put our utmost endeavors in the continuous research and development in bamboo production technologies, as well as stronger linkages within the ASEAN region,” Cimatu pointed out.

Bamboo is widely recognized as a “versatile renewable resource” that protects the environment, improves the microclimate, controls soil erosion, protects riverbanks, reduces flash floods, serves as windbreak, and sequesters atmospheric carbon efficiently.

It also has good properties comparable to most wood species and offers a variety of uses either in its unmanufactured form or as processed into engineered products, and as such, reduces the demand burden for wood-based products from the forests thereby arresting deforestation.

The attendees to the regional conference were convinced that engaging into bamboo production and the manufacturing of bamboo products provide job opportunities and steady income source among farmer groups, local communities, artisans and workers along the value chain.

However, they also recognized the fact that promoting bamboo for climate change adaptation and mitigation, economic stability and environmental sustainability entails innate challenges that need science-based decision-making, linking up with all possible stakeholders and dialogue partners.

This is exactly what the congress participants want to address to achieve enhanced technical collaboration, efficient resource mobilization, inclusive development strategies, clear and effective regulations, broad public awareness and enhanced capacities.

The signatories to the resolution have resolved to enhance partnership to come up with science-based strategies in improving the conditions of bamboo forests and dependent industries in the region.

They also agreed to share best practices to increase the appreciation and acceptance of bamboo as a cost-effective green product as alternative to plastic, metal and wood materials.

At the same time, they approved of the plan to hold the Bamboo Congress every three years to sustain the efforts on expanding ASEAN bamboo concerns in the world map, re-examine the strategies that have been undertaken, and bring into active discussion the new and emerging challenges on bamboo that the region may have to engage in.

ERDB Director Sofio Quintana, who signed the resolution on behalf of Cimatu, expressed hope the conference would result in stronger regional collaboration on the promotion of bamboo for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“We hope that the resolution presented and signed during the 1st ASEAN Bamboo Congress marks strengthened partnerships and research breakthroughs among bright minds as One ASEAN for better climate change adaptation strategies and actions toward environmental sustainability and economic resiliency,” Quintana said. ###

The Philippines will continue to play a major role in achieving sustainable development through environmental protection among the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu made this promise as the country celebrates August as the ASEAN Month to commemorate the 52nd founding anniversary of Southeast Asia’s premier intergovernmental organization.

According to Cimatu, the Philippines has been a leader in promoting environmental protection to achieve sustainable development in the ASEAN region during the last five decades.

The country’s involvement in the ASEAN, he said, has resulted in “significant contributions to laying a foundation for common actions of cooperation on sustainable development” among the 10 member countries.

“Of note is the role the Philippines has played to put forth the gains ASEAN has made in promoting sustainable development and deepen the organization’s progress to improve the region’s environmental quality in the spirit of equality and solidarity,” Cimatu said.

The Philippines is one of the founding members of the ASEAN, which was created on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand primarily to spur economic and socio-cultural growth in the region through joint undertakings to strengthen the foundation for a thriving and peaceful community of Southeast Asian nations.

The ASEAN Community has three pillars: political-security; economic; and socio-cultural.

According to Cimatu, the Philippines played a key role in advancing ASEAN’s motto “One Vision, One Identity, One Community” with the DENR’s involvement in ASEAN dialogues and consultation mechanisms, particularly the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community through the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment (AMME).

Within the ASEAN framework, the development of environmental cooperation is discussed at the AMME and is convened every three years.

For monitoring and harmonization of environmental preservation efforts among Southeast Asian countries, the ASEAN Senior Officials on Environment (ASOEN) was established in 1989. Outputs the ASOEN conferences are reported to the AMME.

Under the ASEAN Cooperation on the Environment, Secretary Cimatu acts as the Philippine Official to AMME while DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones is the designated Senior Official to the ASOEN.

The DENR also represents the Philippines in seven ASEAN Working Groups (AWGs), namely on climate change, coastal and marine environment, chemicals and waste, environmental education, environmentally sustainable cities, natural resources and biodiversity, and water resources management.

Cimatu said the country’s active participation in these AWGs have yielded “numerous benefits to the government’s environment conservation and protection efforts ranging from projects, grants, and hosting of center of excellence—the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity in Laguna.”

From 2006 to 2019, the country hosted five important AMME-related events such as the AMME Environmental Summit held in Cebu City in November 2006. The DENR also hosted several ASOEN meetings, including those held in Boracay in 2007 and 2017, with the latter coinciding with the country’s hosting of the 50th ASEAN Founding Anniversary.

Last month, the DENR hosted two major regional environmental events—the 22nd ASEAN Senior Officials on Forestry (ASOF) Meeting and the ASEAN Ministerial Roundtable Discussion on Clean Air, Health and Climate Change.

The ASOF Meeting sought to discuss measures on how to further strengthen regional cooperation to address transboundary threats to forests and development of internationally compliant forestry-based products within the region.

Cimatu himself participated in the ASEAN Ministerial Roundtable Discussion held in Makati City on July 24-25. High on the agenda were initiatives and insights toward global climate action and clean air and health to meet the goals of the landmark 2015 Paris climate agreement.

The roundtable meeting provided a platform for an interactive discussion, in a high-level setup, on the opportunities and challenges of coming up with a regional approach to air pollution and climate change.

The two-day event also gathered policy experts and scientists in the ASEAN region and beyond to share local initiatives and insights toward achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development through the nationally determined contributions of each country.

During the event, the ASEAN member countries were called upon to respond collectively to the Special Report on Global Warming 1.5°C published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in October 2018. ###