Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is partnering with civil society organizations (CSOs) to enable the marginalized to improve their lives through the agency's programs, particularly the National Greening Program (NGP).

Secretary Gina Lopez said the DENR will tap the knowledge, experience and expertise of CSOs, which are often at the forefront of poverty reduction efforts and promotion of social justice.

Last Thursday, Lopez met with leaders of civil society organizations across the nation, for a planned convergence toward helping marginalized communities. The meeting was dubbed as Salu-salo at Ugnayan para sa Kalikasan or SALUGNAYAN.

The DENR has identified at least 14 areas throughout the country which CSOs can adopt and provide with livelihood opportunities to ultimately serve as "models of entrepreneurship".

Lopez is eyeing the NGP as a tool to improve the lives of people living in poverty. She is also looking into mangrove and bamboo plantation programs because of the environmental benefits and the economic potential that these plants offer. Mangroves minimize typhoon damage and bamboo aids in carbon sequestration. Bamboo is also a source of premium construction material, particularly with the availability of technologies for making “engineered” and laminated bamboos.

She also wants community-led eco-tourism projects that generate incomes and economic activities similar to Ugong Rock in Palawan.

"I want to make an economic impact through the NGP. We will utilize the power and the money to bring forward social justice," Lopez said during the meeting which was also attended by DENR Undersecretary for Civil Society Nicanor Perlas.

The DENR chief maintained that social justice is in action if the resources of the country are enjoyed by its people.

She also said that the planned convergence, which is a government function, will be both developmental and regulatory. "It will give income to the people to make them self-sustaining and at the same time provide quick action on complaints and environmental issues," she pointed out.

The convergence areas include South Upi, Raja Buayan, Haran and Marilog in Mindanao; Sorsogon City; Sibuyan Island in Romblon; and the provinces of Batangas, Oriental Mindoro, Guimaras, Antique, Palawan, Nueva Ecija and Zambales. #

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has created an action center that will respond quickly to environmental issues and concerns raised by its stakeholders, particularly members of civil society organizations.

The creation of the DENR Action Center was embodied in Special Order No. 2016-494 signed by Secretary Gina Lopez, who earlier promised to strengthen civil society participation in environmental governance guided by the principle of the common good.

"Before, the civil society was in a contrarian relationship with DENR," Lopez said. "It shouldn't be the case. We should be there to serve them."

Aside from being the primary patrons and beneficiaries of the action center, members of the civil society will also be the "biggest safeguard of the environment" since they are in the best position to know what is exactly happening in their respective areas.

Under the new order, the DENR Action Center will "attend to telephone calls, queries, electronic mails and complaints on environmental violations, and ensure that immediate actions are taken by appropriate DENR units/offices."

Deputy Environment and Natural Resources Officer Arturo Valdez was designated to head the action center, which will be directly under the Office of the Secretary.

Earlier this month, Lopez signed a memorandum of agreement with various government agencies, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, for the creation of the National Anti-Environmental Crimes Task Force.

The task force is assigned to assess law enforcement needs and operations; form multisectoral law enforcement teams as needed; and conduct monthly action planning to address major environmental issues or deal with intractable violators.

"The overriding passion of the DENR and my personal passion is that of social justice. And in the sphere of the environment, it is my determination that the resources of the Philippines be enjoyed by the Filipino people. Not by a few, not by foreigners, but by the Filipino people," Lopez stressed.

Lopez has also designated every other Wednesday as People's Day in all DENR offices nationwide to bring the agency and its programs closer to the people.

The initiative likewise aims to improve transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the DENR. It is also a means to get inputs from the public on matters affecting them. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has vowed to be more aggressive in informing the public about the dangers of air pollution, with the new air quality monitoring system in Metro Manila now in place.

The DENR, through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), can now provide residents with the most up-to-date information about the air they breathe straight from the monitoring stations in 13 strategic locations in the metropolis.

EMB Director Gilbert Gonzales said DENR Secretary Gina Lopez's marching order was to intensify the information campaign against air pollution by providing regular updates to the public about pollution levels using various media like television, news websites and LED advertising displays.

Gonzales said the data gathered from the air quality monitoring stations will assist local government units (LGUs) in dealing with air pollution problems and help residents avoid the most dangerous air quality situations.

"By providing fast, accurate and regular updates on how good or bad the air is, local chief executives are better informed to make sound decisions in improving air quality in their areas of jurisdiction. The public is also advised of what they can do in cases when air quality gets really bad and affect their health," Gonzales said.

The DENR has already finished installing continuous ambient monitoring stations (CAMS) in 13 LGUs across Metro Manila, giving the public real-time measurement of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM 10), also known as particle pollution, and parameters like wind speed and direction.

Particle pollution includes fine particles that mainly come from motor vehicles, wood burning heaters and industry. During bushfires or dust storms, particle pollution can reach extremely high concentrations.

Gonzales said the DENR's focus is on the PM10 and PM 2.5 because of their health implications. Numerous studies have showed associations between exposure to particles and increased hospital admissions as well as death from heart or lung diseases.

The EMB-National Capital Region, which is in charge of monitoring and maintenance of all air monitoring stations, recently signed memorandums of agreement with Water Environment Association of the Philippines Inc., SM Supermalls, Megaworld and Star Petroleum Retailers Association Inc. for the adoption of CAMS as part of their corporate social responsibility or CSR activities.

According to EMB-NCR Director Vizminda Osorio, the partner donors donated data loggers that will be installed in the CAMS to record and transmit data to EMB headquarters or operation center for processing and dissemination to the public.

"We welcome partnerships with local government units, private sector and industry organizations to help us ensure that each monitoring station is well-maintained and data are maximized for public information,” Osorio said.

Each monitoring station provides an Air Quality Index (AQI), which is a color-coded tool for telling the public how clean or polluted the air is, and recommending steps people can take, if necessary, to reduce their daily exposure to pollution.

When the AQI is in green, it means that the air quality is good; yellow means fair; light brown for unhealthy for sensitive groups (children, the elderly and peope with cardio-pulmonary diseases); red for very unhealthy; and purple for acutely unhealthy.

If the index reaches light brown, red or purple, the public is advised to stay indoors and limit outdoor activity.

The guidelines for PM10 and PM2.5 are set at 150 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) and 75 ug/Ncm, respectively based on 24-hour averaging.

The monitoring stations are located in the following areas: Hall of Justice, Open Ground, Marikina City Hall; Caloocan City Hall Annex, North Caloocan; Don Bosco Barangay Hall, Parañaque City; Pateros Elementary School, San Pedro, Pateros; Malabon Polytechnic Institute, Malabon City; Navotas City Hall, M. Naval Street, Navotas City; Rohm and Hass Warehouse Compound, CAA Road, Las Piñas City; Bilibid open ground compound, Muntinlupa City;

TUP Taguig Campus, East Service Road, Western Bicutan, Taguig City; Danny Floro Street, Oranbo, Pasig City; Plaza Hardin, Martinez Highway, Addition Hill, Mandaluyong City; PAL Compound, Pasay City; and Pinaglabanan Shrine along Pinaglabanan Street, San Juan City. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct a National Forum on Eco-Schools and Eco-Cities on August 31 to September 2, 2016 in Davao City to overcome challenges, and upscale opportunities and replicate good practices among eco-schools and eco-cities.

Around 200 representatives from champion schools in the National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools, environmentally-sustainable cities, non-government organizations and various government agencies in the country are expected to attend the three-day forum.

The three-day forum will include a mix of lectures and technical sessions, through interaction with the participants and workshops. Discussions will revolve around ways to heighten the mentoring by environmentally-sustainable cities in the build-up of more sustainable and eco-friendly schools and how to create an informal network of eco-schools and eco-cities for the continuing sharing and upscaling of good practices.

The forum will be a platform for the discussion of best practices through eco-school programs, and eco-cities initiatives. In addition, it will help clarify the role of the local government units and schools in the creation of an eco-school and an eco-city.

Speakers for the national forum come from the local government, academe, private and international sector such as International Global Environment Strategies, European Union Switch Asia Policy and Thailand’s Department of Environment Quality Promotion.

DENR Assistant Secretary and Chair of the National Inter-Agency Committee on Environmental Education Corazon Davis said the conduct of the national forum will enhance the attainment of the joint goals of the ASEAN Working Group on Environmentally Sustainable Cities and the ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education, by urging more cities and local government units to have schools with curricula and co-curricular programs on environmental sustainability, and urging the participation of the local government units, in cooperation with the government and private sector, in expanding the participation of schools in the 2017 National Search for Sustainable and Eco-Friendly Schools.

DENR Assistant Secretary for the Environment Juan Miguel Cuna, on the other hand, stressed that for the next six years under the Duterte administration, the DENR is set to institutionalize reforms and environmental governance; empower communities; create a rational minerals management; strengthen biodiversity conservation; strengthen ecological solid waste management and enhance inter-agency collaboration towards clean air, clean water and develop transformative climate change policies.

The forum is organized by the DENR’s Strategic Communication and Initiatives Service, Environmental Management Bureau-Environmental Education and Information Division of the DENR, with DENR-Region X1.###

SURIGAO CITY – Militant groups across the Caraga region have thrown their support behind the efforts of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez and the Duterte administration to rid the country of irresponsible miners.

Around 500 members of the Caraga Watch, a coalition of progressive environmental and workers groups in the industrial and agricultural sectors, staged a rally in front of the regional office of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in this city last Thursday to manifest their support.

The activists said the Duterte government's declared policy for responsible mining has their full backing -- a position welcomed by the MGB, a line bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

"This is the first time in my over 25 years in the service to have witnessed such a display of support from the left-leaning organizations here in Caraga, expressing their optimism in the government’s effort at environmental governance in the mining sector,” said MGB-Region 13 Director Alilo Ensomo Jr.

The rallyists belong to militant groups Nagkahiusang Gamayng Minero (NAGAMI), Anakpawis, Pinagkaisang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) and Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas.

Caraga Watch officials held a one-hour dialogue with Ensomo, during which they expressed their appreciation to Lopez for her eagerness to hear the struggles of local and indigenous peoples in Mindanao that were caused by erring mining firms.

In a position paper, Caraga Watch said Lopez’s advocacy bodes well for the region and its people as “dagku ugpaturagas nga pagmina nga nagresulta sa pagkadaut kinaiyahan sa rehiyon” (the time has come to stop indiscriminate mining that results in environmental destruction in the region).

The rallyists also decried the prevailing contractualization in the mining industry in Caraga and called on the DENR leadership to list it as a priority concern in its agenda for the region.

In response, Ensomo said: "While the government is clamping down on contractualization in the country, the DENR commits to put mining contractualization on the spot light of its agenda."

Data from MGB-Region 13 show that Caraga is home to one of the world's largest iron ore deposits, and largest nickel and gold deposits in the country with significant reserves of copper, chromite and coal.

At present, the region remains basically agricultural as mining only accounts for 3 percent of the region's employment.

With over 20 operating large-scale mining companies, Caraga is known as the country’s de facto mining capital. ###