Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Zamboanga Peninsula has confiscated illegally sawn lumber in the Municipality of San Miguel in Zamboanga del Sur on September 7 following reports that Dipterocarp trees were allegedly being cut in the area.

"The joint operation of the National Bureau of Investigation, 53rd Infantry Battalion Philippine Army and DENR PENRO Zamboanga del Sur resulted in the confiscation of 1,265 board feet of lawaan and yakal species. These are now impounded at the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Pagadian City," said DENR Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Executive Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez.

“There are still 1,600 board feet of lumber to be hauled from the area,” Rodriguez added.

Some 3,000 board feet of yakal and lawaan lumber were discovered in the operation.

An inventory done by the operations team revealed a total of 30 tree stumps in the area.

According to Rodriguez, the suspect in the illegal cutting of trees has been apprehended and was scheduled for inquest by the NBI on Sept. 8.

On August 15, PENRO Zamboanga del Sur seized illegally-sawn lumber estimated to be worth around P1.3 million in Langapod, Labangan.

Rodriguez lauded the support of the NBI and the Philippine Army as well as the continued efforts of PENRO Zamboanga del Sur in the crackdown of illegal environmental activities in the province. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila and the Briquettors Association of the Philippines, Inc. (BAPI) for a tree planting project.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said that the partnership with Letran signifies “the need to involve the academe in environmental protection and conservation.”

“This partnership is a reminder that academic institutions have a critical role in the DENR’s noble mandate to protect the environment,” Cimatu said.

Under the MOA, the parties agree to enhance the existing vegetation of a five-hectare area located at Sitio Pamusuan, Barangay San Mateo, Norzagaray, Bulacan that is part of the National Greening Program (NGP)

The NGP is the government’s flagship reforestation program pursuant to Executive Order 2011-23. It aims to implement sustainable management of natural resources while providing livelihood to poor lowland and upland communities.

On the part of the DENR, it shall be responsible to designate a focal person who shall coordinate with Letran and BAPI for the implementation of the project, formulate a simple tree plantation plan for the designated area, and provide technical assistance to the partners.

DENR shall also conduct regular monitoring, evaluation, and documentation of the project.

On the other hand, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran–Manila shall be responsible for the protection and maintenance of the five-hectare plantation site. It shall coordinate with BAPI for the planting, maintenance, and protection of the planted seedlings.

It shall also be responsible for the sustenance of the growth and survival of the planted seedlings, including prevention of construction in the area, and submission of a final report that will include a map and photo documentation.

The BAPI shall be in charge of the establishment of a seedling nursery with appropriate species, and shall mark and label the seedlings. It shall submit a report to DENR and Letran for monitoring purposes.

On behalf of Cimatu, Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Unit Concerns Benny Antiporda witnessed the MOA signing. Signatories were Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Bulacan Emelita Lingat, President and Rector of Colegio de San Juan de Letran Rev. Fr. Clarence Victor Marquez, O.P., and Chairman of the Briquettors Association of the Philippines, Inc. Mr. Jorge P. Pasagdan, ###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has vowed to do everything in his power to protect workers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from “fearless, cunning and greedy” individuals who destroy the environment for their own selfish interests.

Cimatu made the promise as he condemned “in the strongest sense of the word” the brutal killing of DENR forest ranger BienvenidoVeguilla Jr. by suspected illegal loggers in El Nido, Palawan recently.

“I will never allow another crime such as the killing of Mr. Veguilla to happen to any of my people,” the former Armed Forces chief said during a budget hearing held at the House of Representatives last Friday.

“This incident shows how greed and disregard for our laws can have appalling consequences on people and our society,” Cimatu added.

Reports reaching the DENR central office in Quezon City showed that Veguilla—together with fellow forest ranger JenuelCasel, forest extension officer HersonCaliao, and park rangers Marvin Flamiano, Godensio Caber and NorlitoJongay—were conducting a forest patrol in the afternoon of Sept. 4 in an area covered by the National Greening Program when they heard the sound of a chainsaw as they passed through Barangay Pasadena.

Veguilla’s group followed the sound until they saw some men slicing a felled tree with a chainsaw. These men suddenly ran away upon seeing the DENR team, leaving behind the chainsaw which Veguilla’s group was able to secure.

On their way home and about a hundred meters away from the site, the DENR forest officers were chased by a group of six men armed with a bolo. Veguilla was able to fire his service weapon as he and his companions were running for safety.

However, Veguilla was cornered and hacked to death, while the others were able to seek help from the nearby barangay and police offices.

Veguilla sustained deep, multiple stab wounds on the head, arms and other parts of the body.

One of the suspects identified as Filman Flores was wounded by Veguilla’s shots and was brought to the hospital.

Flores and another suspect, Gerardo “Carding” Fulgencio, are now under police custody. A manhunt operation is ongoing for the remaining four suspects.

Cimatu said the incident calls for the enactment of a law creating an Enforcement Bureau within the DENR.

“We believe that the creation of an Enforcement Bureau under the DENR can effectively stop illegal logging, smuggling of wildlife species and other environmental crimes,” Cimatu pointed out.

The DENR chief appealed to House members present during the budget hearing to help the DENR have this Enforcement Bureau in the soonest time possible.

Last Friday, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado, on behalf of Cimatu, visited Veguilla’s wake to extend the DENR’s condolences and financial assistance to the family.

Two units of chainsaw, Veguilla’s service firearm and the bolo allegedly used to kill him have been recovered from the crime scene and are now in police custody.

Charges for murder have been filed at the Puerto Princesa City Prosecutor’s Office under Docket NPS No. 1V0s INQ 19I0224. Other charges in violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines and Republic Act 9175 or the Chainsaw Act of 2002 that regulates the use of chainsaw are being prepared.

Veguilla’s remains lie in state at his home in Barangay Bagong Bayan in El Nido. He is survived by his wife Eloisa, an elementary school teacher, and their six children.

The 52-year-old Veguilla served as reserved warden at the DENR MIMAROPA from 1980 to 1997. He then worked as contractual protected area ranger and forest ranger from 1998 to September 2015.

In October 2015, he was appointed as forest ranger in the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area.

Veguilla was described by his family and colleagues as hardworking and dedicated. He diligently reported for work and helped out even during weekends and holidays. ###

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. ###