Press Releases

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called for the protection of peatlands in the ASEAN region citing their important role in preventing haze pollution and mitigating the impact of climate change.
While peatlands only cover three percent of the Earth’s land surface, Cimatu pointed out that peatlands can store twice as much carbon as all of the forests on the planet combined if they are kept in their natural state.
"This is why protecting peatlands in our region is of global significance. Keeping the ASEAN peatlands in their natural state, however, is a great challenge, given population pressures and the competition over the uses of land and water resources that they generate," Cimatu said in a video message during the 6th Meeting of the ASEAN Task Force on Peatlands (ATFP) on June 30.
"Despite the current pandemic that hinders us from doing in-person meetings, I am optimistic that through these virtual sessions, we will able to concretely chart the way forward for our regional programs and projects in peatland management," he added.
The ASEAN region is home to about 27.4 million hectares of peatlands.
These comprise 56 percent of global tropical peatlands, which can store an estimated 68 billion tons of carbon or 14 percent of the carbon stored in peatlands globally.
The Philippines has two well-known peatlands—the Leyte Sab-a Basin Peatland in Alangalang and Sta. Fe, Leyte, and the Caimpugan Peat Swamp Forest in Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Agusan del Sur. These are listed as part of the tropical peatlands in the ASEAN region and cover approximately 20,000 hectares.
Cimatu said the adoption of the 2006-2020 ASEAN Peatland Management Strategy (APMS) promoted the sustainable management of peatlands through collective actions and enhanced cooperation to support and sustain local livelihoods, and reduce the risk of fire and associated haze.
The APMS and its programs are being implemented by the ASEAN Member States with the ATFP as the overseer.
It aims to enhance public awareness and capacity on peatlands; address transboundary haze pollution and environmental degradation; promote sustainable management of peatlands; and promote regional cooperation.
The Philippines, through the DENR, hosted a series of meetings on peatlands--the Third Programme Steering Committee (PSC 3) of the Sustainable Use of Peatland and Haze Mitigation in ASEAN, PSC 3 of the Measurable Action for Haze-Free Sustainable Land Management in Southeast Asia, and the 6th Meeting of the ASEAN Task Force on Peatlands or ATFP 6.
DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs Atty. Jonas R. Leones served as chair of the ATFP 6 and the associated PSC meetings.
The meetings were attended by representatives from the ASEAN member-states; donors such as the International Fund for Agricultural Development, European Union, Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety; and implementing partners such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Center for International Forestry Research, Global Environment Centre, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH, and World Resources Institute.
The DENR's Biodiversity Management Bureau headed the Philippine delegation as the National Focal Point of the ATFP with the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) as the Alternate National Focal Point.
As peat fires are usually associated with forest and wildland fires, the BFP serves as the country’s primary agency that ensures the prevention and/or control of these fires.
The meetings of the ATFP aim to coordinate and strengthen the efforts of ASEAN member-states in the protection, conservation, and sustainable use of peatland in the region.
It also serves as a venue to update where the member-states are in terms of implementation of the APMS in relation to their respective National Action Plan on Peatlands.
For his part, Undersecretary for Special Concerns and concurrent BMB Director Edilberto D. Leonardo said that the DENR was "able to continue raising awareness on peatlands with the use of social media, and webinars."
Representing the Philippines as Head of Delegation in the ASEAN-wide meeting, Leonardo presented the updates on the status and implementation of the country's National Action Plan on Peatlands.
"We are gearing towards the way forward to solve these challenges in managing and conserving Philippine peatlands. This includes communication, education and public awareness campaigns, mobilization of resources for the mapping and inventory of peatlands, lobbying for the legislation of Wetland and Peatland Bills, partnership with different stakeholders, among others," Leonardo said.
The ASEAN-wide series of meetings on peatlands were held from June 28 to 30 via Zoom teleconferencing. | (DENR Central Office)
KORONADAL CITY, SOUTH COTABATO - Around 4,500 seedlings composed of bamboo, falcata and fruit trees were planted this morning, June 25, in an adopt-a-mountain program area of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 12 Enhanced National Greening Program at Sitio Hechanova, Barangay Paraiso in Koronadal City.
The seedlings were planted during the joint tree planting activity of the DENR-12, Society of Filipino Forested, Inc. (SFFI) and Professional Regulations Commission (PRC) in support to the celebration of Philippine Arbor Day and Carbon Neutral Program for Professionals (CNPP).
DENR-12 Regional Executive Director Atty. Felix S. Alicer emphasized in his message the importance to restoring the forests.
“We don’t have much forest resources and we are now being denied with the different ecosystems resources being provided by the forests,” he said.
“The obligation to restore or to protect the environment is not only with us, but it is the duty of everyone to conserve our natural resources,” RED Alicer added.
PRC-12 Regional Director Raquel P. Abrantes said that the activity is part of the PRC week celebration based on the Commission’s directive to all regional offices to observe the Arbor Day every 25th day of June.
“We are not doing this for our own benefit, but for the benefit of our children’s children,” RD Abrantes said.
She also assured the DENR that they will give their full support in the activity every year.
Also present during the activity were Banga CENR Officer Abunawas B. Abduladsis, Kalamansig CENR Officer and SFFI Regional Council-12 President Iskak G. Dipatuan, some members of SFFI Region 12, Trailblazer and Valiant batches of the ENR Academy, Institute of Electronics Engineers of the Philippines Soccsksargen Chapter, some DENR-12 and PRC-12 personnel and other partner stakeholders.
Meanwhile, DENR-12 Provincial and Community ENR Offices also conducted their specific activities during the Arbor Day.
The Philippine Arbor Day is being observed throughout the nation by planting trees every June 25 annually based on Proclamation No. 643 signed in 2004.
Republic Act No. 10176 or the Arbor Day Act of 2012 mandates the local government units to designate a fixed date every calendar year to observe Arbor Day and allocate funds for a tree planting activity every year. | Photos by DYIBalindong and Designated Field IOs
To address the need of mediation and conflict resolution among parties involved in the disposition of land claims and conflicts, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XII through its Legal Division facilitated a Refresher Lecture and Workshop on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) on June 4, 2021 at the agency’s Function Hall, Koronadal City.
In his message, DENR XII Regional Executive Director (RED) Atty. Felix S. Alicer lauded the Legal Division for spearheading the said workshop. He also emphasized that decision-making on legal matters may and may not have a favorable response for each and both parties involved.
“You cannot please all the parties of the case no matter how reasonable the decision is. Through ADR, there will be concessions. One party will give way. If you are a mediator, you need to internalize. What is important is the skill of listening”, he said.
Resource speakers from the DENR Central Office - Investigation and Arbitration Division (INAD) of the Legal Affairs Service in the names of Atty. Paulo Enrico Dones, Atty. III; Atty. Ar-reb Aquino, Atty. III; and Atty. Kevin Crust Groyon, Atty. III discussed provisional matters on Disputes and Resolution Mechanisms in Land Claims and Conflicts, DAO 2016-30, Mandatory ADR Pendency of Claims and Conflicts, and Common Provisions on ADR. Presentations were presented in accordance to the guidelines of ADR in Land Management and Disposition of DENR.
Meanwhile in an open forum, Atty. Geraldine D. Ramos, Chief of Investigation and Arbitration Division and Head of ADR Secretariat clarified queries on the constitutionality and nature of ADR such as that ADR intercedes through mediation and not through arbitration. Atty. Mae Fretzel H. Deadio, FADRO of Regional Office further explained the benefits of the said Resolution and further discussed the different online platforms available for Virtual ADR. ADROs were also grouped for mock in person and through virtual ADR proceedings. Mr. Elmer S. Mercado, ADRO and Planning Officer of PENRO Sarangani also discussed the Good and Effective Practices in the Conduct of Successful ADR.
The ADR procedure was implemented by the department pursuant to Republic Act 9285 or the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 2004 and Executive Order 523, instituting the Use of ADR in the Executive Department of the Government. ADR is necessary for the operations of DENR since December 2016 with the issuance of DENR Administrative Order 2016-30 calling for the establishment of mechanisms and tools for ADR in the disposition of land claims and conflicts, the organization of a pool of ADROs, and the creation of a committee and secretariat tasked to implement the ADR process.
The learning workshop was conducted with a virtual online presentation through a limited face-to face set-up and via zoom teleconference participated by Alternative Dispute Resolution Officers (ADROs), Special Investigators (SIs) and Planning Officers from the Provincial and Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (P/CENROs) of Region XII. | Photo Courtesy: RSCIG
DENR-12 Regional Executive Director Atty. Felix S. Alicer has enjoined the public to join the department in protecting and conserving the environment and natural resources.
In his message during the regionwide simultaneous kick-off activity of Environment Month 2021 with the theme “Sama-samang Pagkilos, Sama-samang Paghilom: Ikaw, Ako, Tayo Ang Kalikasan,” RED Alicer stressed that everyone should work together in order to protect the environment.
“The solution to various environmental problems is not only the responsibility of one agency or sector. It has to be a united and coordinated effort in order to address the problem. The efforts of one sector will be useless if others are not involved. Our responsibility in protecting the environment is not limited to our own backyard, it has to go beyond,” he said.
During the activity, officials and employees from the DENR-12 regional and field offices signed the commitment walls to signify their assurance to take the lead in environmental protection and conservation.
The country's celebration of World Environment Day was declared by the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos on June 1, 1973 by virtue of Proclamation No.1149, Series of 1973. The declaration was in consonance with the United Nations General Assembly's Resolution No. 2994 dated December 15, 1972, declaring the 5th day of June every year as World Environmental Day and urging governments in the United Nations System to undertake activities for preservation and enhancement of the environment.
On April 4, 1988, late President Corazon C. Aquino declared the month of June every year as Philippine Environment Month to heighten the environmental consciousness of the public.
KIAMBA, SARANGANI PROVINCE - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Kiamba celebrated the month-long event of Month of the Ocean 2021 through the conduct of various environmental activities.
CENR Officer Abdul D. Cariga said that his office led the simultaneous coastal clean up drives in several barangays of Maitum town on May 22 with the support of the local government unit (LGU).
“We had our simultaneous clean up in the coastal barangays of Kiambing, Mabay, Mindupok, Maguling and Pinol in the Municipality of Maitum. Despite the different community quarantine measures, we’re proud that we were able to accomplish this activity and felt the full support of LGUs and the people on this endeavour,” Cariga said.
An information, education and communication (IEC) campaign on proper waste segregation was also conducted in different barangays to encourage the residents in promoting a clean and healthy environment and to enhance the protection of marine and coastal biodiversity.
Forester Ammar H. Sangcopan, CENRO Kiamba chief of monitoring and enforcement, said that: “Solid waste management is not only a way of life but also a team work. Through the IECs, we are able to prevent environmental violations by raising the people’s awareness and helping the people to do it.”
Meanwhile, in order to enhance the mangrove forest of Maitum town to provide a habitat for marine turtles, the CENRO Kiamba together with the Municipal ENRO of Maitum has planted almost a hundred mangrove propagules on May 7 at Barangay Kiambing of the said town.
Aside from mangrove planting, the office also led the releasing of hundreds of sea turtles in Sarangani Bay.
Stephany Kaye M. Hassan, chief of conservation and environment section, said that they were able to document the release of 289 Olive Ridley sea turtles from the marine turtle hatcheries of the LGUs of Maasim and Maitum on May 6 and 7, respectively.
“We can do more in terms of environmental conservation, let us do our part in saving these endangered species,” she said.
The Proclamation No. 57 dated January 9, 1999 declares the Month of May as the Month of the Ocean (MOO) in the Philippines. It aims to highlight the importance and significance of conservation, protection, and sustainable management of Philippine coastal and marine resources.
CENR Officer Cariga said that this year’s theme “The Science We Need for the Ocean We Want” highlighted the principles the public needs to have in order to sustain the oceans for the generations to come.
“As we are advancing our technology, we should also be able to use it in addressing our present environmental concerns,” he said.
“The ocean covers about 71% of the Earth’s surface. If we destroy it, we are affected. But if we conserve and protect it, our future generations will get to enjoy it, including its resources. Let us help save our seas and protect our oceans,” Cariga added. | With reports from Aileen D. Tenio – CENRO Kiamba Information Officer Designate