Press Releases

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.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has lauded the swift conviction of three men who were caught illegally transporting 10 heads of the critically endangered Philippinepangolin (Manisculionensis)from Palawan province to Tagaytay City last June.

In a two-page order dated July 18, Presiding Judge Liezl Rosario Mendoza of the Municipal Trial Court in Tagaytay City Branch 1 sentenced Simforoso Salazar, JorlanTorrequimada and Victor Equisa to up to three months in jail and ordered to pay a fine of P20,000 each, after pleading guilty to violating the provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

The court ruling came just 20 days since the three accused were caught at a checkpoint in Tagaytay City on June 28.

Cimatu said the swift arrest, conviction and jailing of the three illegal wildlife traders was a sign of just how hard the authorities were trying to clamp down on poachers and wildlife traffickers and traders in the Philippines.

The conviction verdict, he said, provides hope and inspiration for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and law enforcement agencies that go after wildlife offenders.

“We welcome this recent victory not only for the wildlife species that were rescued, but also for the future generations who will benefit from the recuperation and proliferation of its kind,” Cimatu said.

Ten heads of the Philippinepangolin were recovered from the convicted wildlife traders during a routine checkpoint conducted by law enforcers in Tagaytay City.

Following their arrest, the DENR—through the Philippine Operations Group of Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or Task Force POGI—immediately filed the case against them. POGI is a composite team of wildlife law enforcers from various agencies including the Biodiversity Management Bureau, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Philippine National Police.

The pangolins, found in a cramped cage in a van compartment, were initially taken to a DENR rescue center, where they were fed and treated for the bruises.

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) said that out of the 10 pangolins that were rescued, only three survived.

The remaining live pangolins were sent back to their natural habitat in Palawan, the PCSD added.

Classified as a critically endangered species, the Philippinepangolin only thrives in Palawan where it is locally called “balintong.” It is hunted because of the high demand for its scales and meat that are used for traditional Chinese medicine.

RA 9147 prohibits the killing, injuring, collection, selling and transport of threatened and endangered wildlife species. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has welcomed the Supreme Court (SC) decision imposing massive fines on Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) and private concessionaires Manila Water Company and Maynilad Water Services Inc. for their non-compliance with Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and the entire DENR community were grateful for the SC ruling that is expected to boost government efforts to rehabilitate the heavily polluted Manila Bay, according to Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Units Concerns Benny Antiporda.

“Secretary Cimatu extends his gratitude to the Supreme Court for this landmark decision that augurs well for the ‘Battle for Manila Bay’ as well as other environmental rehabilitation programs of the government,” Antiporda said.

He added: “We are looking forward to more people in the justice system extending their support for our fight to preserve and save the environment.”

At the same time, Antiporda expressed hope the high court decision would serve as “a wake up call to big firms that they should pay serious attention and comply with our environmental laws.”

He likewise appealed to the MWSS and its private concessionaires to immediately comply with the SC order “rather than spending so much money on the legal actions” as the fine proceeds would anyway go to the Manila Bay rehabilitation, which currently operates on a tight budget.

"What we want is the compliance with the Clean Water Act," said Antiporda adding that the DENR would want Manila Water and Maynilad to come up with their immediate plans on doubling their actions in compliance with the SC order.

Voting 12-0, the SC ordered MWSS and Manila Water to “jointly and severally” pay a fine totaling P921,464,184. It also ordered MWSS and Maynilad to pay the same amount, which covers the period of May 7, 2009, five years after RA 9275 was enacted, to August 5, 2019 or the day the decision was promulgated.

MWSS, Manila Water and Maynilad were ordered to pay within 15 days from receipt of the ruling. They were also fined P322,102 a day from the time they receive a copy of the decision until they have fully settled the fine.

The SC, in imposing the fines, affirmed a previous ruling by the Court of Appeals (CA) and denied a petition filed by the MWSS and the water concessionaires.

The court ruled that the MWSS, Manila Water and Maynilad were liable for violation of Section 8 of RA 9275, which requires the connection of existing sewage line in all subdivisions, condominiums, commercial centers and other establishments, including households, to an available sewerage system.

The decision stemmed from a case filed by the DENR, which in 2009, slapped the MWSS and the private concessionaires a fine of P29.4 million for their failure to install and maintain wastewater treatment facilities within 5 years after RA 9275 was enacted in 2004.

Under the law, the daily fine increases by 10 percent every two years until full compliance with Section 8.

In 2013, the CA upheld the authority of the DENR to impose fines for violation of such an important provision in the country’s clean water law. ###

 

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called on the nation’s local executives to show “decisive environmental leadership” and sustain the gains fueled by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s strong political will and commitment to address the most pressing environmental problems in the country.

Cimatu met with 74 governors and 1,538 city and municipal mayors at the “The Assembly of Governors and Mayors” held in Manila on July 23. In that same event, the President gave the top leaders of local government units (LGUs) his marching order to intensify the war against illegal drug, corruption, extremism and communist insurgency.

The environment chief reminded the governors and mayors to show political will and take the initiative, and not to wait for the national government to intervene.

He explained that the President’s decision to close and rehabilitate Boracay Island for six months last year was “a general warning” to local executives who sacrifice sustainable development as a result of their failure to enforce environmental laws.

The island’s closure led to the filing of charges against local officials for gross neglect of duty, he pointed out.

“This message was duly noted by local governments in Coron and El Nido in Palawan, Panglao Island in Bohol, and Puerto Galera in Orioental Mindoro, among others,” the environment chief noted.

“You have control over business permits and land use and development,” Cimatu said, as he warned of adverse environmental impacts if such control is not properly exercised.

“LGUs have the autonomy, as well as the duty, to improve environmental conditions in their areas,” Cimatu stressed.

He reminded them of their mandate “to create conditions that can determine whether or not the pursuit of local development can or cannot be environmentally sustainable.”

Cimatu, however, assured the governors and mayors of support from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to capacitate their competence in addressing and implementing priority environmental concerns and projects within their respective jurisdictions.

“The DENR can and will provide technical support on a broad range of concerns from geohazard mapping to reforestation, to the management of solid waste and air and water pollution,” Cimatu said, noting that the local governments of Coron and El Nido in Palawan, Panglao Island in Bohol, and Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro have acknowledged this support.

He prodded them not to balk from enforcing environmental laws, and that he is mobilizing the entire DENR workforce from the central, regional, provincial and community levels to assist them “as long as they do their part.”

At the same time, Cimatu urged LGUs to help address the country’s vulnerability to climate change hazards through a convergence approach that highlights the key role of local authorities in the transition to more sustainable ways of environmental governance.

The eight provinces identified as most vulnerable to climate change hazards are Masbate, Sorsogon, Negros Oriental, Samar, Saranggani, Surigao del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Dinagat Islands.

Climate change hazards include sea-level rise, drought and other climate change-induced disasters like landslides and flooding.

Cimatu heads the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation, Mitigation and Disaster Risk Reduction with 24 government agencies as members.

“Together, let us continue to transform national policies and programs into local actions with quantifiable gains,” Cimatu said. ###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has announced that the rehabilitation of the world-famous El Nido beach in Palawan will continue, but it would remain open to tourists.

Cimatu, however, said that the “no swimming” policy would remain in effect in certain areas within Bacuit Bay and Corong-Corong due to high coliform levels.

Citing a recommendation by the regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in MIMAROPA, Cimatu said these areas are not safe for swimming for having high fecal coliform counts reaching nearly 16 million most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100ml).

“We waited for this so that we can make a decision. The decision is that we will continue the rehabilitation,” Cimatu announced during a press conference after emerging from a meeting with Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat and Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año in Camp Aguinaldo last Thursday, August 1.

The DENR chief added: “We will not close El Nido, and we will continue the ‘no swimming’ in [three outfalls] in Bacuit Bay and one in Corong-Corong.”

He identified the three outfalls in Bacuit Bay as El Nido Estero, Cabugao and Masagana.

Aside from the degradation of water quality that was caused by lack of sewerage systems of household and commercial establishments, Cimatu said the encroachment in easement zone and timberland, solid waste management and violation of environmental laws were also found to have contributed to the dreadful conditions in El Nido.

Cimatu has directed the regional executive director of DENR MIMAROPA to form an inter-agency task force composed of regional offices of the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government and representatives from the local government unit (LGU) to “undertake investigation and inspection of establishments, including households” within El Nido’s tourism area.

The task force will have 20 days starting August 5 to conduct their operations and is expected to submit the results on August 25.

Cimatu ordered the task force to identify non-compliant commercial establishments or those that violate environmental laws, no business permits and without DOT accreditation.

“Ito ‘yung mga gagawin nila, including ‘yung violation sa timberland kung saan nag-build sila ng mga resort doon without the necessary permits from the government,” he added.

The former military chief emphasized that if there will be recommendations from the task force to shut down establishments, it will only be “individual” businesses and not the entire ecotourism area.

Asked about the cause of the current state of El Nido, Cimatu cited the lack of regulatory measures from the LGU, especially the mayor, despite the Local Government Code designating LGUs as in-charge of their respective tourism sites.

“Ganito po ang nangyari sa Boracay noon, walang nagko-control, but this time we are able to stop all this. And we will continue to stop this because we cannot allow na mag-deteriorate itong El Nido into another Boracay,” said Cimatu.

“That is the reason why we cautioned the mayor, because the mayor, technically, is in-charge of this, it is not our task force. However, we are providing technical assistance and all other assistance that the government can do in order to save El Nido.”

The same plan used in the rehabilitation of the Boracay Island will be followed for the rehabilitation of El Nido and the rest of the ecotourism areas in the country, such as Coron, Siargao, Panglao, and Puerto Galera. ###