Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will hold a two-day summit in Davao City next month to discuss with stakeholders possible solutions to the most pressing environmental problems facing Mindanao today.

The DENR has partnered with the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU) for the environmental summit to be held at the campus on August 4. Some 4,000 participants, particularly from the academe, civil society and other stakeholders from across Mindanao’s six regions, are expected to attend the event.

The second day (August 5) will see the DENR work with selected CSO representatives in a strategic planning workshop at the Davao Convention Center.

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez said that the summit and the workshop aim to engage the stakeholders and involve them in the implementation of programs and projects of the department, especially for Mindanao.

‘Participants will know more about the DENR’s programs and understand them better. At the same time, it will be a chance for stakeholders to present ways for us to strengthen program implementation,” Lopez explained.

She added: ‘The most important thing is, everything will be interactive and will allow all stakeholders to foster a closer working relationship. This is also a step for the DENR in embarking towards being more than regulatory, but an activator of change.”

The summit will open with a segment called the "State of the Mindanao Environment Day" or SOMEDay. The forum, to be facilitated by AdDU President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ, will allow civil society organizations (CSO) to present their concerns and recommendations to the new DENR chief, who is expected to provide her initial feedback.

Simultaneously, a parallel dialogue between the community or other stakeholders and the AdDU students will be held in “Laudato Si Classes” aimed to enrich the environmental consciousness and understanding of the participants.

The two dialogue-forums will be followed by the turnover of the Mindanao Environmental Agenda to Lopez, and the commissioning of all participants as ecological warriors or simply "eco-warriors."

On the second day, some 200 selected CSO representatives will be oriented on the major programs of the DENR. These would serve as the basis for the workshop’s breakout sessions, in preparing action plans to address issues, and coming up with relevant programs and policies.

Participants and visitors will also be able to view an eco-fair exhibit from August 4 to 8 at the Martin Hall. The exhibit will showcase CSO initiatives in promoting environmental protection. #

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has vowed to take swift and effective action on the Lumad's complaints about destructive mining, illegal logging and other environment-sensitive activities in Mindanao.

"The common good remains my non-negotiable stand. I promise to act on your concerns especially those that directly affect your livelihood and your homes," Lopez told the Lumad during their second meeting on Tuesday at the DENR central office in Quezon City.

The indigenous people (IP) have complained about how destructive mining and illegal logging activities have caused superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering to poor communities in Mindanao.

The Lumad's primary concern is the rampant human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by large mining and logging firms, which they want to be stopped immediately.

The IP group also called for an immediate probe on the disappearance of one of their members, which they claimed was related to the DMCI logging project in Sultan Kudarat.

The group also asked for a halt on the operation or cancellation of the mining permit granted to Sagittarius Mines Inc. that is allegedly conducting open-pit mining in Tampakan, South Cotabato.

Lopez said that if the results of the ongoing mining audit being conducted by the DENR would show that there were indeed violations, she will either suspend the operation or cancel the permits of erring mining firms depending on the gravity of the violation.

"I will not allow people to suffer because these big companies want to do business," Lopez said. "This is beyond my conscience and will not be tolerated by this administration."

On behalf of the Lumad, Pya Macliing Malayao of KATRIBU (Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas) gave Lopez a copy of the "Indigenous People's (IP) Agenda" which lists their demands to the Duterte government on key issues related to the recognition and respect of the collective rights of the IPs to their ancestral land and resources, human rights and social services and development.

It also includes points covered by the mandate of the DENR, including the revision of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the National Integrated Protected Areas Systems Law or NIPAS of 1992; moratorium on the grant of all mining permits; and make mining and logging companies liable for the destruction of natural resources in their areas.

The agenda will be officially submitted to the Office of the President on August 8 as part of the commemoration of the World Indigenous Peoples' Day.

Also present in the meeting were officials of the Environmental Management Bureau and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

Lopez first met the Lumad representatives at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines in Manila, where they had the chance to air their complaints to the new DENR chief. ###

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Tuesday met with several farmers from Cagayan Valley to listen to their concerns related to the mining activities in the region.

At least 30 representatives from various farmers' groups in Cagayan Province, Isabela and Nueva Vizcaya were welcomed by Lopez at the DENR central office in Quezon City.

The meeting lasted for almost two hours and centered on large-scale mining, illegal mining operations, land titling issues and human rights violations.

Each of the farmers had the chance to talk to Lopez and ventilated their grievances against at least two mining companies operating in Region 2 -- OceanaGold and Golden Summit.

After the meeting, Lopez assured the farmers that the DENR will look into the issues and complaints they have against the identified mining firms.

"We will coordinate with authorities and see the rule of law. If these mining companies have violated the law, we will ensure their suspension, revocation of permits or even closure," Lopez said.

The farmers demanded for an immediate halt on the Cagayan Valley operations of OceanaGold, an Australian mining firm, whom they accused of causing water pollution and deforestation in its area of operation, harassing people, and violating human rights.

They also complained about the mining company Golden Summit, which they claimed was operating illegally in Isabela.

Lopez vowed to assist the farmers displaced by mining operations by tapping them for reforestation activities under the government's National Greening Program (NGP).

“We will put money in reforestation and agro-forestry. It is not enough that you plant trees. Ater you plant, you should take care of them. The money will go to the farmers,” added Lopez.

Nueva Vizcaya farmers asked to be included in the NGP.

The DENR chief also promised to act swiftly on the concerns raised by the farmers. As a first step, Lopez said she will discuss the case of OceanaGold with the Australian Ambassador in their upcoming meeting. ###

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has assured the Lumad or indigenous peoples of Mindanao that mining operations in the region found in violation of mining and environmental laws and regulations would be suspended.

This, even as Lopez urged them to submit their proposed development plan for areas which have been affected by destructive mining activities.

"Sususpindihin natin ang mga mining company na lumalabag sa batas," Lopez told Lumad representatives during their dialogue held at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila last Sunday.

During the dialogue, the Lumad representatives complained about the new open pit mines and tailings ponds constructed in their areas, which have severely affected their livelihoods.

The group cited Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Tampakan, Sultan Kudarat; SR Metals Inc. in Tubay, Agusan del Sur; and Greenstone Mining and Taganito Mining, both in Surigao del Norte, as among those whose operations have seriously affected IP communities due to siltation, open pit mining and stockpiles.

The Lumad also appealed to Lopez to halt illegal logging and encroachment in watershed areas, and stop militarization in their areas which they claimed was related to the plan of large-scale mining companies to setup new businesses.

They likewise called for the return of all the Lumad displaced from their ancestral lands because of mining and illegal logging activities.

At the end of the dialogue, Lopez assured the Lumad that she was one with them in their cause and that an investigation and audit of the mining companies they have mentioned is underway.

She said the government will study the development plan submitted by the Lumad and address their concerns at the soonest possible time.

The Lumad present during the dialogue are part of the Manilakbayan 2016, a delegation from Mindanao which marched to Manila to bring their plight to the attention of their fellow-Mindanawon, President Rodrigo Duterte, in time for his first State of the Nation Address. ###

he Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has once again joined forces with two service-oriented organizations to rehabilitate the 26,125-hectare Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), one of Metro Manila's sources of water supply.

Around 120 volunteers from the Rotary Club of Makati-Rockwell (RCMR) and the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) trooped to an upland barangay within the UMRBPL over the weekend to plant some 2,000 native tree seedlings.

The activity was part of the commitment of the RCMR and CESB to help the DENR address the loss of forest cover in UMRBPL due to illegal activities like slash-and-burn farming, charcoal making and timber poaching. The two service-oriented groups have been partners of the DENR since 2010.

This is the second time that the RCMR and CESB volunteers have conducted reforestation activities in Sitio San Ysiro in Barangay San Jose, Antipolo City to fulfill their commitment to reforest at least seven hectares of open and denuded forestland allotted by the DENR under the National Greening Program or NGP.

The tree-planting activity was led by DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones, RCMR president Kris Gorra Dancel and CESB executive director Ma. Anthonette Lllones.

The effort was an offshoot from the success the tripartite partnership had in the the roadside greening of the South Luzon Expressway which saw the planting of some 18,423 tree seedlings from 2010 to 2014, covering a combined distance of 40 kilometers. The effort posted a survival rate ranging from 70 to 95 percent based on the monitoring report of the DENR-Region IVA office in Calamaba, Laguna.

Volunteers from the Region IV office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), led by Cavite District Engineer Arthur Pascual Jr., also took part in the event.

In October last year, the volunteers planted some 1,000 native fruit-bearing and forest trees in the area, covering two hectares of land and has an elevation of 350 meters above sea level.

Anchored on the theme “Preventing Disasters, Providing Livelihood,” the tree-planting project in UMRBPL has some 20 households beneficiaries, each consisting of as many as three families, who were hired to conduct maintenance and protection activities on the planted areas.
The beneficiaries are also entitled to harvest the fruits from the trees planted and grown at the site.

The UMRBPL is considered one of the most important protected areas being supervised by the DENR as the watershed is a major source of water for Metro Manila and nearby areas.

The river basin was placed under the administrative jurisdiction and control of the DENR by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 296 issued in 2011. The entire area covers the upper reaches of the Marikina watershed in the province of Rizal, straddling Antipolo City and the towns of Baras, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Tanay.

The flooding in Metro Manila and other nearby low-lying areas during tropical storm 'Ondoy' (international name: Ketsana) in 2009 exposed extent of forest loss and degradation in UMRBPL, fueling public-private partnerships on rehabilitating the watershed to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Reforestation and alternative livelihood activities for communities are among the several measures the government and its partners have undertaken to help rehabilitate the UMRBPL.

The area originally covered some 27,980 hectares when it was established as "Mariquina Reserve" by virtue of Executive Order (EO) 33 issued by US Civil Gov. Luke Edward Wright in 1904, banning the settlement, entry, sale or disposition of a vast tract of land to “protect the watershed of the Marikina River, the source of water supply of the city of Manila.”

Portions of the reservations were however excluded from the area by executive fiats issued from 1904 to 1996 and these were converted into residential, commercial and industrial areas, contrary to the intent of the EO 33 to protect and preserve the area. ###