Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is spearheading another massive cleanup of the historic Manila Bay on Saturday (Sept. 21), as the nation joins the rest of the world in observing the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day 2019.

More than 15,000 volunteers are expected to join the simultaneous cleanup activities within the Manila Bay region and in river systems that drain to Manila Bay.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the local observance of the ICC Day 2019 is a “very timely event” to conduct another cleanup drive in Manila Bay with the same magnitude as the first one held early this year.

It will be recalled that last January 27, over 10,000 people took part in the massive cleanup that marked the launch of the rehabilitation program dubbed as “Battle for Manila Bay.” Since then, cleanup activities have been held in various esteros and other water bodies that drain into the bay.

Cimatu said the event on Saturday aims to sustain the momentum of restoring Manila Bay to its former glory, an effort that enjoys the support of all stakeholders from both public and private sectors.

“We are continuing the mission of cleaning Manila Bay in time for this year’s ICC Day celebration—an activity close to the noble purpose of rehabilitating this historic bay—so that the future generations can still witness its splendid glory,” Cimatu said.

DENR cleanup sites are in Bgy. 649 in Baseco, Manila, the coastal areas of Navotas Centennial Park, and the river systems of Tullahan-Tinajeros and Marikina River which drain to Manila Bay.

Other cleanup sites include the Navotas Tanza Marine Tree Park;Las Piñas- Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area; By the Bay Central Park in SM Mall of Asia and Gloria Maris, CCP Complex in Pasay City; and Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Sta. Mesa, Manila.

Cimatu said the DENR aims to reduce the fecal coliform level in Manila Bay to 100 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100ml), making it fit for swimming and other contact recreations.

A day after the January 27 cleanup, bacteria levels taken from the Rajah Sulayman outfall—one of the eight water quality monitoring stations of the DENR—reached 35 million MPN/100ml. Prior to the cleanup, the bacteria levels in the bay reached up to 330 million MPN/100ml.

Cimatu said the cleanup efforts are in line with the Writ of Continuing Mandamus issued by the Supreme Court in 2008 to target the source of pollution in Manila Bay.

In that ruling, the high court ordered the DENR and 12 other government agencies to “clean up, rehabilitate and preserve Manila Bay for the enjoyment of the present and future generations.”

“Battle for Trash-Free Manila Bay” is the theme for the local celebration of ICC Day 2019.

Established in 1986 by the Washington-based environmental group Ocean Conservancy, the ICC is recognized as the world’s largest volunteer effort for ocean’s health.

Held every third Saturday of September of each year, thousands of volunteers worldwide join in clearing tons of trash from coastlines, rivers and lakes and recording every piece of trash collected. ###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is looking forward to a “more efficient and environmentally sustainable” mining in the country with the recent signing of a landmark mining cooperation agreement between the Philippines and Japan.

“We are gradually entering into a new realm and climbing greater heights when it comes to mining with this cooperation with the Japanese government,” Cimatu said.

The Philippines, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), recently signed a three-year memorandum of cooperation (MOC) with Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) to promote and carry out cooperative activities toward sustainable mining in both countries.

The MOC was signed on August 16 in Tokyo by Minister Yoshihiko Isozaki of METI and DENR Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas Leones on Cimatu’s behalf. The agreement came into effect from the date of signing until 2022.

It aims to strengthen cooperation in the mining industries between the Philippines and Japan. The two countries agreed to support each other in promoting sustainable development in their respective mining and mineral resources sectors.

Both countries were hoping to strengthen their ties through regular dialogues and cooperation in the areas of mining policy on exploration, development and operation; information sharing on supply-demand trends; and best practices of sustainable development and operation in mining.

Other areas of concern are security in exploration, development and operation of mines; appropriate environmental impact assessment; and improvement of investment environment to attract more investors to the mining sector.

In line with the MOC, the Philippines’ Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and the Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (JOGMEC) entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for environmental cooperation covering the fiscal year 2019.

MGB and JOGMEC agreed to undertake measures to protect the environment and rehabilitate the areas affected by mining operations, as provided for in the MOC signed by the DENR and METI.

Under the MOU, a total of 15 personnel from the MGB central office and regional offices will be sent to Japan to undergo an 11-day training on mine pollution control and environmental policies to be administered by JOGMEC. The training will be held in two batches: October 2019 and January 2020.

The MOU was signed by MGB acting director Wilfredo Moncano and JOGMEC executive vice president Hajime Ikeda.

Japan, once a world class producer of metals, now has 5,000 suspended and abandoned mines throughout the country and JOGMEC has been rehabilitating mines and working on mine pollution control since the 1970s. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Zamboanga Peninsula has confiscated illegally sawn lumber in the Municipality of San Miguel in Zamboanga del Sur on September 7 following reports that Dipterocarp trees were allegedly being cut in the area.

"The joint operation of the National Bureau of Investigation, 53rd Infantry Battalion Philippine Army and DENR PENRO Zamboanga del Sur resulted in the confiscation of 1,265 board feet of lawaan and yakal species. These are now impounded at the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Pagadian City," said DENR Zamboanga Peninsula Regional Executive Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez.

“There are still 1,600 board feet of lumber to be hauled from the area,” Rodriguez added.

Some 3,000 board feet of yakal and lawaan lumber were discovered in the operation.

An inventory done by the operations team revealed a total of 30 tree stumps in the area.

According to Rodriguez, the suspect in the illegal cutting of trees has been apprehended and was scheduled for inquest by the NBI on Sept. 8.

On August 15, PENRO Zamboanga del Sur seized illegally-sawn lumber estimated to be worth around P1.3 million in Langapod, Labangan.

Rodriguez lauded the support of the NBI and the Philippine Army as well as the continued efforts of PENRO Zamboanga del Sur in the crackdown of illegal environmental activities in the province. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has inked a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran in Manila and the Briquettors Association of the Philippines, Inc. (BAPI) for a tree planting project.

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said that the partnership with Letran signifies “the need to involve the academe in environmental protection and conservation.”

“This partnership is a reminder that academic institutions have a critical role in the DENR’s noble mandate to protect the environment,” Cimatu said.

Under the MOA, the parties agree to enhance the existing vegetation of a five-hectare area located at Sitio Pamusuan, Barangay San Mateo, Norzagaray, Bulacan that is part of the National Greening Program (NGP)

The NGP is the government’s flagship reforestation program pursuant to Executive Order 2011-23. It aims to implement sustainable management of natural resources while providing livelihood to poor lowland and upland communities.

On the part of the DENR, it shall be responsible to designate a focal person who shall coordinate with Letran and BAPI for the implementation of the project, formulate a simple tree plantation plan for the designated area, and provide technical assistance to the partners.

DENR shall also conduct regular monitoring, evaluation, and documentation of the project.

On the other hand, the Colegio de San Juan de Letran–Manila shall be responsible for the protection and maintenance of the five-hectare plantation site. It shall coordinate with BAPI for the planting, maintenance, and protection of the planted seedlings.

It shall also be responsible for the sustenance of the growth and survival of the planted seedlings, including prevention of construction in the area, and submission of a final report that will include a map and photo documentation.

The BAPI shall be in charge of the establishment of a seedling nursery with appropriate species, and shall mark and label the seedlings. It shall submit a report to DENR and Letran for monitoring purposes.

On behalf of Cimatu, Undersecretary for Solid Waste Management and Local Government Unit Concerns Benny Antiporda witnessed the MOA signing. Signatories were Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Bulacan Emelita Lingat, President and Rector of Colegio de San Juan de Letran Rev. Fr. Clarence Victor Marquez, O.P., and Chairman of the Briquettors Association of the Philippines, Inc. Mr. Jorge P. Pasagdan, ###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has vowed to do everything in his power to protect workers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from “fearless, cunning and greedy” individuals who destroy the environment for their own selfish interests.

Cimatu made the promise as he condemned “in the strongest sense of the word” the brutal killing of DENR forest ranger BienvenidoVeguilla Jr. by suspected illegal loggers in El Nido, Palawan recently.

“I will never allow another crime such as the killing of Mr. Veguilla to happen to any of my people,” the former Armed Forces chief said during a budget hearing held at the House of Representatives last Friday.

“This incident shows how greed and disregard for our laws can have appalling consequences on people and our society,” Cimatu added.

Reports reaching the DENR central office in Quezon City showed that Veguilla—together with fellow forest ranger JenuelCasel, forest extension officer HersonCaliao, and park rangers Marvin Flamiano, Godensio Caber and NorlitoJongay—were conducting a forest patrol in the afternoon of Sept. 4 in an area covered by the National Greening Program when they heard the sound of a chainsaw as they passed through Barangay Pasadena.

Veguilla’s group followed the sound until they saw some men slicing a felled tree with a chainsaw. These men suddenly ran away upon seeing the DENR team, leaving behind the chainsaw which Veguilla’s group was able to secure.

On their way home and about a hundred meters away from the site, the DENR forest officers were chased by a group of six men armed with a bolo. Veguilla was able to fire his service weapon as he and his companions were running for safety.

However, Veguilla was cornered and hacked to death, while the others were able to seek help from the nearby barangay and police offices.

Veguilla sustained deep, multiple stab wounds on the head, arms and other parts of the body.

One of the suspects identified as Filman Flores was wounded by Veguilla’s shots and was brought to the hospital.

Flores and another suspect, Gerardo “Carding” Fulgencio, are now under police custody. A manhunt operation is ongoing for the remaining four suspects.

Cimatu said the incident calls for the enactment of a law creating an Enforcement Bureau within the DENR.

“We believe that the creation of an Enforcement Bureau under the DENR can effectively stop illegal logging, smuggling of wildlife species and other environmental crimes,” Cimatu pointed out.

The DENR chief appealed to House members present during the budget hearing to help the DENR have this Enforcement Bureau in the soonest time possible.

Last Friday, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado, on behalf of Cimatu, visited Veguilla’s wake to extend the DENR’s condolences and financial assistance to the family.

Two units of chainsaw, Veguilla’s service firearm and the bolo allegedly used to kill him have been recovered from the crime scene and are now in police custody.

Charges for murder have been filed at the Puerto Princesa City Prosecutor’s Office under Docket NPS No. 1V0s INQ 19I0224. Other charges in violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines and Republic Act 9175 or the Chainsaw Act of 2002 that regulates the use of chainsaw are being prepared.

Veguilla’s remains lie in state at his home in Barangay Bagong Bayan in El Nido. He is survived by his wife Eloisa, an elementary school teacher, and their six children.

The 52-year-old Veguilla served as reserved warden at the DENR MIMAROPA from 1980 to 1997. He then worked as contractual protected area ranger and forest ranger from 1998 to September 2015.

In October 2015, he was appointed as forest ranger in the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area.

Veguilla was described by his family and colleagues as hardworking and dedicated. He diligently reported for work and helped out even during weekends and holidays. ###