Press Releases

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. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has scored another legal victory over illegal wildlife traders after a Davao court convicted two individuals who were caught in a raid that turned up over P50-million worth of wildlife species in Mati City last April.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu hailed the conviction as “yet another corroboration of the agency’s unyielding mission of protecting the country from illegal wildlife trade.”

“It is our mandate to give justice to the voiceless wildlife species that are incessantly being used for personal gains,” Cimatu stressed.

In a decision penned by Presiding Judge Semiramis Bituin Castro, the Municipal Trial Court in Mati City, Davao Oriental convicted Jomar Lumakore Toledo and Rompas Manindig Lumakore for violating Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

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

Toledo and Lumakore were meted a jail term of up to four years and a fine of Php30,000 each.

Court records showed that both accused pleaded guilty to the crime upon re-arraignment from the previous plea of not guilty.

The case stemmed from a raid conducted by the Philippine Operations Group of Ivory and Illegal Wildlife Trade or Task Force POGI—a composite team of wildlife enforcers from various agencies including the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the Philippine National Police—in a warehouse in Barangay Dahican.

The raid yielded a total of 450 species of bird, mammals and reptiles, including the endangered Black Palm Cockatoos and Echidna.

The confiscated exotic animals were reportedly in the area for safekeeping in a week before they are transported to and sold in different areas in the country. The task force arrested Toledo and Lumakore, who served as caretakers of the wild animals.

Earlier this year, the DENR also won a lawsuit against a wildlife trader who was caught selling a live green iguana, which is considered an endangered species, in July 2018.

The Quezon City Metropolitan Trial Court Branch 36 convicted Harriet Shelley Velarde for violating RA 9147 and sentenced her to suffer the penalty of imprisonment of one year and one day to two years, and to pay a fine of P200,000. ###