Press Releases

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has directed all protected area (PA) managers in the country to ensure that local communities are involved in the all aspects of management of conservation areas known for their natural, ecological and cultural values.

Lopez gave her marching orders during a conference of members of Protected Area Management Boards (PAMBs) in Region 4-A or Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) held in Quezon City recently.

"We will involve the people. We cannot help save the environment if we don't partner with the people who live there," Lopez said during the 5th Regional PAMB Summit of Region 4-A attended by around 200 PAMB heads and members.

The environment chief also reminded the PA managers about the commitment of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to social justice by making sure that "the resources of an area are enjoyed by its people."

"Your performance indicator is the quality of life of the people there. I want them to live well. I want them to earn," Lopez told summit participants.

She also bared a plan for a joint venture between the communities and the DENR, through its corporate arm, the Natural Resources Development Corp. or NRDC, to provide livelihood opportunities to people in PA communities.

"We have the money. We can fan out resources there but they (the people) must make money from the economic activities. And then we roll back the earnings. We make some money and we make sure they benefit. We roll it, roll it until we get rid of poverty there," she explained.

Lopez said she wants the DENR to act as a "benevolent entrepreneur" that will help people within and around PAs utilize their resources and improve their lives.

According to DENR-Region 4-A Director Reynulfo Juan, Lopez's directive is a recognition of the critical role played by the community in ensuring the long-term stability and success of a PA.

He also underscored the need for the PAMBs in Calabarzon to revisit their respective management plans in the light of Lopez's plan to refocus the National Greening Program from being a reforestation project to a form of livelihood.

"We have to look at the projects currently implemented in the areas. We will also generate wealth in the host communities," Juan said.

He added: "Whatever development will be undertaken in a PA should benefit the local communities."

There are more than 200 PAs across the country, ranging from large natural parks, landscapes and seascapes, to wildlife and marine life sanctuaries. Seventeen of these conservation areas are located in the Calabarzon.

PAMBs are created pursuant to Republic Act No. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.

Each board is composed of the DENR regional director; the provincial development officer; one representative each from the municipal government, barangay, tribal community; at least three representatives from non-government organizations or local community organizations; and one representative from another department or national government agency involved in PA management. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is leading the nation in observing the Ozone Protection Month this September, which also marks the 31st year since the world agreed for the first time to slash the production and consumption of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other ozone-depleting substances (ODS).

The agency has lined up several activities to highlight the importance of protecting the ozone layer, a fragile shield of gas that protects the Earth from the harmful portion of the rays of the sun, thus helping preserve life on the planet.

This year marks the 31st anniversary of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, an important milestone in the protection of the ozone layer that happened in 1985. Two years later, representatives from 24 nations met in the Canadian city of Montreal and announced to the world that it was time to stop destroying the ozone layer.

In doing so, these countries themselves, via the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, to rid the world of substances that threaten the ozone layer.

In December 1994, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed Sept. 16 of every year to be the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, commemorating the date when the Montreal Protocol was signed in 1987. The day was first celebrated on Sept. 16, 1995.

The theme for this year’s celebration is “Ozone and Climate: Restored by a World United.” It is in recognition of the collective efforts of the parties to the Vienna Convention and Montreal Protocol for the restoration of the ozone layer and the global commitment to combat climate change.

The Philippines signed the Montreal Protocol on September 14, 1988 and ratified it on March 21, 1991.

As one of the parties to the agreement, the country agreed to the gradual phase out of ODS, particularly CFCs and Hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs).

CFCs and HCFCs are chemical coolants used in refrigerators, air conditioning units, fire extinguishers, thermowares, ice box, water jugs, among others. The country imposed a ban on the importation of CFCs and HCFCs in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

According to a study by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the control, use and phase out of ODS significantly contributed to the protection of the ozone layer.

The UNEP hailed the Montreal Protocol a success, noting that the presence of controlled ODS emissions in the atmosphere is decreasing which signifies recovery of the ozone layer from ODS-induced depletion.

The DENR, through the Philippine Ozone Desk (POD) under the Environmental Management Bureau, is in charge of all activities lined up for the Ozone Protection Month.

The month-long celebration kicked off with a discussion on the eventual phase out of hydroflourocarbons or HFC held in Iloilo City on Sept. 2. It was attended by representatives from civic groups, the youth sector and dealers of ODS. A similar discussion will be held at the Ateneo de Davao University on the last week of September.

For Luzon, the EMB-POD, together with Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, will hold a technology forum on alternatives to ODS and climate protection on Sept. 16 at the Sequoia Hotel in Quezon City.

The forum is intended for industries, importers, end users, and manufacturers of ODS. The discussion will center on the Philippine’s commitment to the Montreal Protocol, HFC phase down, and the imperative linking of ozone layer and climate protection.

On Sept. 6-7, POD staff made surprised visits to shops, service centers and warehouses of ODS importers, dealers, resellers, retailers around Metro Manila to check on their permits and ensure their compliance with DENR standards.

The DENR also scheduled a series of lectures and workshops on ODS use and management, as well as its relation to climate change, from Sept. 9 to 29. ###

The Land Management Bureau (LMB) recently launched a new system designed to hasten the processing and issuance of titles on lands covered by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The formal launch of the Land Administration and Management System (LAMS) highlighted the 115th anniversary of LMB, the agency responsible for the administration, survey, management and disposition of A&D lands and other public lands not placed under the jurisdiction of other government agencies.

LAMS is a computerized information system that consolidates land data and records in the country. The system is designed for quick and easy processing, tracking and retrieval of land information.

LMB Director Emelyne V. Talabis said the new system cuts the approval of land surveys, which used to take six months to one year, to five working days for simple subdivision survey with complete requirements.

It also guarantees land tenure security for every Filipinos as the speedy approval of land surveys lead to the issuance of land patents, she added.

LAMS has four components, namely: public land application (PLA); inspection, verification and approval of survey (IVAS); e-survey plan; and client-transaction monitoring (CTM).

A major innovation, CTM enables clients to keep track of the status of the survey and their application electronically --- through the LAMS kiosks located in all DENR regional offices, by text or SMS or via Internet.

Since CTM is digital, it eliminates any personal contact between LMB personnel and clients and minimizes follow-ups, thus preventing incidents of corruption.

The PLA component evaluates, processes and approves land applications. It provides efficient storage, analysis and monitoring to prevent the issuance of double titles and promote transparency in the processing stage.

The IVAS is designed to track the verification and approval process of the survey at the regional offices. It starts with digital submission of survey returns to digital land survey data (DLSD) generated from e-survey plan.

The DLSD file is uploaded at the front desk of the regional office and forwarded to the verification and projection unit to validate the mathematical, textual and spatial information.

The e-survey allows the client, through an accredited geodetic engineer, to submit the survey application online for faster verification of boundaries.

Once approved, the survey data are saved on the digital cadastral database (DCBD) of approved surveys of LAMS. The DCDB has the textual information of the lot and its scanned image. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is asking for a higher budget of P28.67 billion for 2017 to bankroll programs designed to protect the environment and improve the lives of marginalized communities.

At a recent budget hearing in the House of Representatives, DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said a bigger budget will help the department fulfill its commitment to social justice through the implementation of environmental protection programs anchored on convergence and area-development approach.

"Our main challenge is to raise the quality of life in communities that are the primary stakeholders and pursue measures that will optimize their growth potentials," Lopez told House members when she presented to them last Monday the DENR's budget proposal for next year.

The DENR's proposed budget for 2017 is about 31 percent higher than its P21.8-billion allocation for this year.

Lopez said the budget increase "mirrors the Duterte administration's push for social justice to ensure that majority of the Filipino people truly benefit from the exploitation of the country's natural resources."

She said the DENR will be working closely with civil society groups, scientists, and social entrepreneurs to turn its programs and projects into income-generating enterprises for communities.

One of these is the National Greening Program (NGP), the government's flagship reforestation program, which Lopez is eyeing to turn into a tool to improve the lives of the poor.

NGP is a six-year massive forest rehabilitation program that aimed to cover 1.5 million hectares of degraded forestland with trees by the end of 2016. But it was extended until 2028 through an executive order issued in November 2015 in a bid to rehabilitate 7.1 million hectares more.

As of the end of 2015, the NGP has already created at least 2.2 million "green jobs," benefiting more than 320,000 individuals hired as workers in planting sites and tree seedling nurseries.

Lopez had earlier vowed to make sure the NGP will continue to benefit the marginalized communities through ecotourism and agroforestry development.

For 2017, the DENR is asking Congress to allocate P9.4 billion for NGP's implementation.

According to DENR Undersecretary for Policy and Planning Marlo Mendoza, the DENR's focus next year will be on the NGP, responsible mining, forest protection, and biodiversity conservation.

DENR programs such as the forest protection program was allocated P674 million; biodiversity conservation program, P763 million; coastal and marine ecosystem program, P633 million; land administration and management, P568 million; research and development, P90 million and Manila Bay Clean Up Program, P80 million.

The proposed budget likewise covers two major foreign-assisted projects being implemented by the DENR, totalling to around P2 billion as government share, namely the Forest Management Project and the Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management Project.

A total of P3.4 billion was earmarked for DENR's line bureaus and attached agencies. A big chunk of the allocation or P1.6 billion goes to the Environmental Management Bureau, which implements projects on solid waste management, clean air and clean water.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau is allocated P688 million for its mining regulation services and geohazard assessment and mapping.

The National Mapping Resource Integrated Authority or NAMRIA, a DENR attached agency, has an allocation of P1 billion, of which P394 million will be used for the government's unified mapping project.

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development is allocated with P50 million.

Some P78 million will go to the National Water Resources Board for the implementation of its two major projects: the Comprehensive Water Resources Assessment in Major River Basin and the Establishment of Monitoring Stations in Water Constrained Cities. ###

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez envisions the Philippines as a country whose citizens give more value to the environment than material possessions and physical comforts in their pursuit of happiness.

In a recent budget briefing in the Senate, Lopez said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will remain steadfast in achieving its goal of a cleaner, healthier and happier environment for Filipinos.

"A cleaner and greener environment would make people healthier and happier," Lopez told Senate finance panel chair Sen. Loren Legarda.

Lopez said the DENR will continue to promote environmental protection and manage the country's natural resources in an ecologically sustainable way to ensure that they are available for the enjoyment and use of present and future generations.

She said people who live in a cleaner and healthier environment tend to be more productive and earn more for other needs while spending less on health problems, resulting in less crime and better peace and order situation.

"You may have a lot of money, but why should money be your goal?" Lopez pointed out.

Meanwhile, Lopez informed Legarda that she already directed the DENR's planning and policy office to monitor the impact of the budget and programs of the department on people's lives.

"We will measure the impact on four areas: health, economy, peace and order, and the environment," Lopez said.

The DENR chief said she would like to follow Bhutan's model of measuring gross domestic happiness (GNH) index, which gives equal importance to non-economic aspects of well-being in quantifying social and national progress.

Coined by Bhutan's fourth king, His Majesty JigmeSingye Wangchuck, GNH is based on the four pillars of good governance, sustainable socio-economic development, cultural preservation, and environmental conservation.

Legarda agreed with Lopez, saying it is precisely the reason she re-filed a resolution asking the National Economic and Development Authority to reconsider growth measurements not only in terms of gross domestic product, but also GNH.

"When you have a cleaner and more resilient environment, you become happier, healthier and eventually, richer," the lawmaker said. ###