Press Releases

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu reminded environment ministers not to forget the equally crucial issue of marine plastic pollution during the recently concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial Roundtable Discussion on Clean Air, Health and Climate held in Makati City last July 24-25, 2019

In his Welcome Message, Cimatu said five ASEAN member-states were cited as the biggest sources of plastic pollution in the world’s oceans and were accounted to have the highest marine plastic litter concentration.

In 2015, Science magazine listed Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines as among the world’s worst plastic polluters.

Cimatu said there is definitely a need for a strong collaboration and an immediate comprehensive and integrated regional action to address marine plastics given the ASEAN region’s “richness in marine biodiversity aside from being a strategic maritime zone.”

“After all, plastics have carbon footprint, too, and bio-accumulation of microplastics may have impacts to human health,” Cimatu added.

Environment ministers and senior officials of ASEAN member states have committed to strengthen local initiatives to address air pollution and to adopt early and scaled-up solutions to help avoid a 0.6oC temperature increase by 2050. This will aid to improve air quality and prevent premature deaths and crop damages annually.

The commitments are in response to the roundtable discussion's primary message to highlight the linkages of issues related to air pollution, health and climate. Specifically, the focus was to reduce short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs) such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone and hydrofluorocarbons which, aside from adversely affecting health, also contribute to global warming.

In addition, the need for integrated planning on climate change and air pollution was raised to identify the most relevant actions to mitigate both impacts simultaneously.

The discussions concluded with recommendations by ASEAN countries to enhance respective nationally determined contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement to include mitigation of SLCPs, integration of air pollution and climate change mitigation, and alignment of climate change and air pollution policies by 2030.

The improvement of the NDCs also includes the operationalization of appropriate and country-relevant measures on air quality cited in the article “Report on Air Pollution in Asia and the Pacific: Science-based Solutions” which identifies 25 clean air measures that can positively impact human health, crop yields, climate change and socio-economic development,

The commitments reached in the roundtable discussion shall be presented in the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23, 2019 in New York City and to the High-Level Officials’ Meeting of the Asia-Pacific Regional Forum on Health and Environment on September 27-28, 2019.

The Philippines through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) co-hosted the ASEAN meet that brought together experts, scientists and leaders from and beyond the ASEAN region to share local initiatives and insights toward global climate action, clean air and health.#

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 Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will spearhead the first ASEAN Bamboo Congress for Climate Change Adaptation towards Environmental Sustainability and Economic Resiliency on August 12-16, 2019 at the Iloilo International Convention Center in Iloilo City.

The event will convene more than 200 researchers, academics, policy makers, professionals and business groups within the ASEAN region to discuss and exchange information on bamboo and sustainable environmental strategies. Officials from the International Network for Bamboo and Rattan (INBAR) in Beijing, China, and the World Bamboo Organization as well as representatives from other non-ASEAN countries, like Australia, USA, and China, are also expected to attend the congress.

According to ERDB Director and National Coordinator of the Bamboo Plantation Development Project (BPDP) Dr. Sofio B. Quintana, the conduct of the event is in recognition of the importance of bamboo in adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.

“Bamboo is considered as a valuable economic and environmental resource, and ERDB hopes to continue to innovate ways on increasing awareness on the promising potentials of bamboo especially in attaining environmental sustainability and economic resiliency,” Quintana said.

On the other hand, Angelito B. Exconde, Assistant National Coordinator of BPDP said that through the congress, ERDB hopes to strengthen partnership with other countries in enhancing science-based research and development on bamboo.

“The congress will support the bamboo industry, and how this industry can contribute to sustainable economic growth and environmental sustainability,” said Exconde.

Aside from being the fastest growing plant on earth, bamboo is also known for its resilience, versatility, beauty, and strength. It is a source of food and construction materials, and can be used as furnishing. Bamboo also helps in carbon sequestration with its capacity to store 39.8 to 44.3 percent of carbon in its total biomass.

“We foresee this [congress] as a relevant and leading avenue for the improvement of bamboo information not only in the ASEAN region but globally,” said Quintana.

“Climate change is a pressing issue, but there is strength in numbers. I believe that if various stakeholders will strongly collaborate, we can respond fully to this problem,” he added.

ERDB is the principal research and development arm of DENR. It has done research on bamboo since 1987. The bureau has established a Bambusetum at the Los Baños Experimental Station to conserve and preserve more than 40 different rare and endangered bamboo 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. ###

 

In a bid to make public land titling more accessible and transparent, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is bringing operations to different barangays across the country to accept applications for titling of public alienable and disposable lands.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu recently issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2019-08 instructing all Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENROs) and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENROs) to accept public land titling applications at the barangay level.

“This is part of our continuing effort to simplify, streamline and fast track the disposition of public alienable and disposable lands through free and homestead patents, and we are doing this in strong partnership with local government units (LGUs),” Cimatu said.

Cimatu has tasked the DENR’s Land Management Bureau (LMB) to provide further guidance and technical assistance to ensure maximum results in the implementation of DAO 2019-08, entitled “Applications of Public Land Titling at the Barangay Level.”

LMB Director Emelyne Talabis said that the DAO essentially brings land titling services closer to the people through the barangay.

“We are thrilled that with this new policy, we can impact land owners’ lives by providing a more accessible and transparent service of the government,” Talabis said.

Under the DAO, PENROs and CENROs—in coordination with LGUs and barangay officials—would accept applications for public land titles submitted through the barangay office.

To help facilitate the process, land-related information such as cadastral maps, procedures, streamlined requirements and corresponding fees would also be posted in conspicuous places at barangay halls for easy viewing by the public.

“Instead of the people going to the CENROs which may be far from their residence, it will be the CENRO staff who will go to the barangays to conduct information dissemination and encourage the community to apply for land titling,” Talabis said.

She added that applications can be accepted on-site as long as the requirements are complete.

The LMB, however, clarified that the initial rollout would only allow acceptance of applications in barangays where titling operations are ongoing, and advised the public to be aware of any schedule in their respective villages.

In preparation for the full implementation of the DAO, LMB personnel have already been conducting rapid land tenure appraisal in different regions of the country to determine lots with potential for titling.

The LMB has also started training DENR field personnel and LGU representatives on how to hasten the application process for public land titles.

The DAO tasks the concerned regional offices to submit written and video documentation of the proceedings of the titling operation and submit these to the LMB for monitoring purposes. The documentation shall form part of the database of the Land Administration and Management System (LAMS).

LAMS is an information system designed to provide effective management of the country’s land records, as well as an efficient delivery of land services to the public. It was developed as an innovation under the Land Administration and Management Project, which aims to address the problematic management of voluminous DENR land records.

DAO 2019-08 is consistent with the implementation of DAO 2011-06, which prescribes guidelines for the implementation of public land titling in partnership with LGUs, as well as DAO 2007-09, which aims to simplify, streamline, and fast track the disposition of public alienable and disposable lands through free and homestead patents. ###