Press Releases

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu hit the ground running Wednesday as the newly appointed chair of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) in answer to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s call to clean the Pasig River.

The environment chief led atechnical inspection of Pasig River and pledged to get rid of informal settlers and go after pollutersof the historic river.

Cimatu was joined in the more than two-hour inspection tour of the river by Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Danilo Lim, and officials of the PRRC, the Philippine Coast Guard and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

As they traversed the length of Pasig River from Manila to Makati, Cimatu noted several violations including the three-meter easement from the riverbanks.

"We have the authority to restore the three-meter easement, and MMDA and PRRC are working on this," Cimatu said.

Based on Presidential Decree 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines, banks of rivers and streams and shores of seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three meters in urban areas are subject to the easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage.

However, MMDA Resolution No. 3, series of 1996 adopts the uniform 10-meter easement from the existing shoreline, banks or streams along the Pasig River.

According to Cimatu, the 10 meter easement along the Pasig River is subject to expropriation.

The environment chief also saw some 1,000 informal settler families (ISFs) near Del Pan Bridge and vowed to relocate them.

"Relocation is our priority. We will take immediate action. We will remove and relocate the ISFs in coordination with the National Housing Authority,” he said.

Cimatu said that during his recent meeting with local government officials, including barangay captains, he warned them of administrative and criminal charges should they allow relocated ISFs to return to their previous settlements.

The DENR chief said that outfalls discharging wastewater into the river will be checked to monitor water quality, as well as illegal discharges.

“The moment we see a private outfall whose discharge is not according to standards, we will issue them a Notice of Violation (NOV),” Cimatu warned.

He noted that establishments which were earlier issued NOV have been made to pay fines for every day that they did not comply. “We will not let this pass. We will bring these to the Pollution Adjudication Board,” he added.

Cimatu also said the regulated and proper use of the river will be observed, referring to the barges docked along the river that deliver raw materials to the factories, and to the makeshift junkshops along the riverbanks.

“We have to move them out because they contribute to the low quality of the water in the river,” said Cimatu.

The DENR chief said that immediate action will be taken on the large amount of water hyacinths in the river.

MMDA Chair Lim said a 600-meter trash trap has been installed to prevent water hyacinths to reach Pasig River from Laguna Lake but this was destroyed by the continuous rains, thus will have to be replaced.

Cimatu also stressed the need to clean the esteros simultaneously and continuously to prevent the garbage from flowing to the river and then to Manila Bay.

The Pasig River tour gave Cimatu a picture of the water body’s physical condition, as well as the structures and establishments in the riverbanks that affect the river’s water quality.

On August 28, President Duterte issued Executive Order No. 90 transferring the PRRC Chairmanship from the PRRC to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) with hopes to revive the river with Cimatu at the helm.

The President recently expressed dismay over the river’s water quality describing it as “uncleanable” because the lack of zoning caused factories and houses along the river to discharge their waste to it.

Last year, Cimatu delivered on the President’s directive to clean Boracay in six months. Early this year, he was tasked to spearhead the ongoing rehabilitation of Manila Bay which has gained ground with the cleanup of esteros, the resettlement of informal settler families (ISF) and the improving water quality readings in major outfalls.

Pasig River is approximately 27 kilometers long and connects Laguna de Bay and Manila Bay. The main Pasig River passes through the cities of Taguig, Pasig, Makati, Mandaluyong and Manila, and the municipality of Taytay in Rizal.

The river system has four major tributaries—Marikina, Pateros-Taguig, Napindan and San Juan—and 43 minor tributaries mostly located in Manila. ###

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said emergency response programs will be strengthened in Boracay Island to prevent another tragedy similar to the death of members of the Boracay Dragon Team.

“The Boracay Inter-agency Task Force (BIATF) is saddened by this tragedy and sympathizes with the families of all casualties. The task force will work with the local government units and other authorities to extend assistance to all affected by this unfortunate incident,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu assured that the BIATF Field Office “will work on a comprehensive emergency response program and shall recommend it to the principals of the task force.”

The BIATF is chaired by Cimatu and co-chaired by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

“The program will consider the provision of necessary protocols, logistics, and resources for an effective emergency rescue and response in the island,” Cimatu said.

The local municipality of Malay in Aklan also responded to the aid of the victims and their families by activating their Incident Command System, with the departments and agencies providing their services such as cadaver management from the Municipal Health Office; family assistance and stress debriefing from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and Red Cross; and security from the Philippine Coast Guard and the maritime arm of the Philippine National Police.

A boat carrying 20 paddlers and one steersman of the Boracay Dragon Team overturned amid rowing from the Bulabog Beach to the White Beach of Boracay Island on the morning of Wednesday, September 25, 2019.

Seven paddlers were declared dead on arrival (DOA) after being taken to the hospital, namely: Mark Vincent Navarete, Omar Arcob, Maricel Tan, Yohan Tan, Richel Montoya, Antonette Supranes, and John Vincent Natividad.

Another paddler, Von Navarossa, was brought to Kalibo Hospital.

The survivors were Mark Baccay, Jaylord Violanda, Robel Licerio, Marc Sabado, Oathleen Sabado, Kenneth Bandalan, Julia Kurbaniizova, Maggie Xie, Xhen Autona, Lani Ordas, Janice Lumbo, Jao Buenaventura, and Edwin Paradas.

According to reports, the Boracay Dragon Boat Team was training for weeks at Bulabog Beach in Barangay Balabag but transferred to the White Beach because the winds changed from southwest monsoon (habagat) to northeast monsoon (amihan) three days ago.

While paddling, the team encountered a sudden violent gust of wind before they reached the third bay of Tulubhan Beach in SitioTulubhan in Manocmanoc, Boracay Island. Waves started to swell and then hit the boat. Water filled the boat before it capsized.

The group has been practicing for weeks in the famous tourist destination for an international competition before the accident. ###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) to identify and arrest those behind the killing of an informant of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Rizal town in Nueva Ecija province recently.

“I hope the PNP will look deeply into this case and bring those perpetrators to justice, so that we can say that the death of yet another environmental defender has not been in vain,” Cimatu said, as he strongly condemned the killing of Gaudencio Arana, a long-time DENR informant currently assigned at the office of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) in Muñoz town.

Arana, 56, was gunned down by two motorcycle-riding assailants on the night of Sept. 11.

According to CENRO Florencio Lalu, Arana was one of those “responsible in giving accurate information regarding the illegal activities within Pantabangan and Rizal, Nueva Ecija areas leading to the apprehension of several illegally sourced wood products, conveyances and chainsaws.”

This, Lalu said, “could have earned the ire of unscrupulous individuals conducting illegal activities within these municipalities.”

Arana was the second environmental worker killed in just one week this month.

On Sept. 4, suspected illegal loggers stabbed DENR forest ranger BienvenidoVeguilla Jr. to death using a jungle bolo in El Nido, Palawan.Five suspects—DexterSumalague, WelmerJuancho, Felman Flores, Ricardo Fulgencio, and RuelFulgencio— have already been arrested and charged accordingly for murder and violation of Presidential Decree No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines.

Cimatu had earlier vowed to do everything in his power to protect DENR workers from “fearless, cunning and greedy” individuals who destroy the environment for their own selfish interests.

Appearing at a budget hearing in the House of Representatives, Cimatu asked lawmakers to pass a law that would create an Enforcement Bureau in the DENR in order for the agency to effectively stop environmental crimes, such as illegal logging and smuggling of wildlife species.

The former Armed Forces chief also asked Congress to come up with a legislation authorizing forest rangers to carry firearms to protect themselves against illegal logging syndicates and other environmental criminals.

With the proposed creation of the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau, forest rangers shall be authorized to carry firearms in the conduct of their daily patrol.

In the meantime, Cimatu said forest rangers should be provided police security whenever they conduct patrol. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) has issued an interim Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to BoracayTubi Systems, Inc. (BTSI) for discharging wastewaterthat tested positive for fecal coliform in the waters of Boracay Island.

The wastewater discharge was traced from BTSI’s one (1) kilometer outfall pipe from Lugutan area in BrgyManoc-Manoc in the island to Sibuyan Sea. Sinkers were placed on the outfall pipe to secure it and prevent it from floating. It was found to be almost 13 kilometers below the water surface.

The interim CDO was issued on Sept. 21,2019 by EMB Western Visayas Regional Director Atty. RamarNiel V. Pascua and shall be effective for seven (7) days unless confirmed by the Pollution Adjudication Board in such case it shall become a regular CDO.

“I have made it clear from Day 1 that no one is above the law,” said Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu adding that,“all environmental laws have to be strictly enforced because their primary purpose is to protect our environment and natural resources.”

“We will appropriately deal with the people responsible for this violation,” stressed Cimatu who is chair of the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force created by President Rodrigo RoaDutertethrough Executive Order 53 to reverse the degradation of Boracay Island.

In an inspection conducted by personnel of EMB, an outfall pipe was seen to be discharging a large volume of yellowish water.

Laboratory Analysis results revealed that fecal coliform and phosphate from the water sample and residue taken have exceeded the General Effluent Standards maximum allowable limit for Class SC marine water body per DENR Administrative Order No. 2016-08 or the Water Quality Guidelines and Effluent Standards of 2016.

The sample collected had a fecal coliform of 3,500 most probable number per 100 ml (MPN/100ml) against an effluent standard for Class SC water of 400 MPN/100ml. On the other hand, Phosphate was at 2.250 mg P/L against the standard of one (1) mg P/L level.

Earlier, a video of a pawikanor sea turtle sticking its head into the pipe outlet was posted in social media by a Korean diving instructor.

On August 14, 2019, DENR Secretary Roy A.Cimatu gave instructions to cordon off the beachfront area in Station 1 after two female foreign nationals—one allowing child to defecate in Boracay’s waters and the other burying a used diaper in the white sand – also circulated on social media.

BoracayIsland was ordered closed by President Rodrigo RoaDuterte in April 2018 after he described its water as a cesspool. The famous island reopened in October 2018 after a six-month rehabilitation.

Boracy Island is surrounded by Sibuyan Sea in the east and Sulu Sea in the west.

BTSI is one of the two water utility companies in Boracay Island. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) urged the public anew to stop throwing trash into waterways to help address the growing problem of marine pollution.

The appeal was made as the DENR led yet another successful cleanup of Manila Bay and its tributaries on Saturday during the local observance of the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day 2019.

Thousands turned up in various cleanup sites around the Manila Bay region for this year’s ICC event dubbed as “Battle for Trash-Free Manila Bay.”

According to DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, all cleanup efforts will be in vain if the public continue with their habit of indiscriminate dumping.

“Ang nais po namin ipabatid sa inyo, itong cleanup na ginagawa natin taun-taon ay maganda po ito, pero ang kailangan natin isaisip at isaulo ay dapat matigil ang paglalagay ng basura sa ating mga katubigan,” Cimatu said in his message conveyed by DENR Undersecretary and Manila Bay Task Force Ground Commander Juan Miguel Cuna.

“Maaari po tayong gumawa ng cleanup taun-taon pero kung tuloy-tuloy ang pag-load natin ng pollution sa ating mga katubigan, sayang ang ang hirap natin,” Cimatu pointed out.

Cimatu said that behavioral change among Filipinos is needed to clean up Manila Bay and all other water bodies in the country.

The environment chief nevertheless thanked all the volunteers and encouraged them to do daily cleanup activities and practice recycling and waste segregation to combat marine pollution.

For ICC Day 2019, top officials of the DENR were assigned to lead cleanup efforts in different water bodies in Metro Manila as part of the rehabilitation programs “Battle for Manila Bay” and “Battle for Rivers and Esteros.”

Cuna led the cleanup in Baseco in Tondo, Manila where some 6,000 volunteers were recorded.

Aside from the Manila Bay coastline, cleanup activities were also held in esteros and waterways that drain into the pollution-challenged bay.

The DENR noted that following the natural flow of water, pollution from the upstream—including the esteros—will only quickly replace the solid waste removed from the coastal areas.

DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda was in Navotas Centennial Park where close to 3,000 volunteers showed up, while Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia was in Tumana, Marikina City, Assistant Secretary Marcial C. Amaro, Jr. in Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, and Environmental Management Bureau Director MetodioTurbella in Estero de Tripa de Galina in Parañaque City.

Together with Rotary International District 3780 and around 500 volunteers, Undersecretaries Jonas Leones and AnalizaRebuelta-Teh installed a trash trap made from plastic bottles and fishnet along Tullahan River in Novaliches.

Last February, President Rodrigo RoaDuterte issued Administrative Order No. 16 designating Cimatu as chair of the inter-agency Manila Bay Task Force, with the secretaries of the Department of Tourism and the Department of the Interior and Local Government as vice chairpersons.

During the ICC event, the DENR was joined by volunteers from local government units, private organizations, industries, the academe and other stakeholders in cleaning up Manila Bay and its tributaries.

The kind and number of garbage collected from each site is recorded and weighed for submission to Ocean Conservatory, a Washington-based environmental group that spearheaded the first coastal cleanup in 1986. The group will validate the report and consolidate it with those from other participating countries.

Through the annual ICC, Ocean Conservatory hopes to find solutions to threats in oceans and waterways around the world. ###