Press Releases

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has set a December deadline for the cleanup of Navotas City’s Bangkulasi River, one of the filthy water bodies that drain into Manila Bay.

“Cleaning up the Bangkulasi River, which is part of the Malabon-Navotas River System, is an essential part of the Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program because the river system directly empties into the historic bay,” Cimatu pointed out.

The former Armed Forces chief ordered the DENR team assigned to the river system to “produce drastic improvements by December this year” in order to reduce the fecal coliform levels in Manila Bay by yearend.

The team, according to DENR Undersecretary for Solid Waste and LGU Concerns Benny Antiporda, would “aim to prevent more wastes from flowing into the river system before cleaning it.”

“We are planning to use some interventions to prevent wastes from coming back to the river,” Antiporda said during a meeting with local officials of Navotas City on August 5.

In that meeting, Antiporda disclosed that the DENR will be issuing cease and desist orders against establishments that have no proper sewage treatment plants or STPs.

However, Antiporda was quick to explain that the clampdown was “not about destroying the economy of Navotas, but about waking them up to say that Navotas is a model city.”

“The Inter-Agency Task Force will also be providing the businesses with technical assistance to help them come up with solutions on how to go about with their problems on STPs,” the DENR official said.

Unlike in Boracay where businesses had to wait for months before they could operate again, Antiporda said that business owners in Navotas could “proactively coordinate with the service providers and offer solutions when needed.”

“The DENR really means business when it comes to environmental protection,” Antiporda pointed out. “Once the DENR is able to effectively deliver its message, other establishments surrounding the area will take proactive steps to ensure they will not be affected by the issuance of cease and desist orders.”

Antiporda said that a one-stop shop for Navotas business owners will be set up to help them comply with the requirements provided under various environmental laws.

The Environmental Management Bureau-National Capital Region Office and the DENR North Field Office will also help expedite the processing of environmental permits by businesses, he added. ###

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. ###