Press Releases

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez today condemned the killing of anti-coal activist Gloria Capitan last Friday, saying the investigation of the killing should not stop with the arrest of the assassins who pulled the trigger, but should lead to the arrest of the mastermind.

“I am calling on the authorities, particularly the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the killing and leave no stone unturned to identify the identities of the perpetrators,” said Lopez.

“The killing of Ms. Capitan should be a grim reminder to all of us regarding the insurmountable risks that we face for standing up to powerful interests of the few. Her ultimate sacrifice will only strengthen our conviction to serve the common good,” Lopez said.

The environment chief also conveyed her sympathies to the family of Capitan. ###

Known environmental activist Regina Paz L. Lopez took over the top post of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from outgoing Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje in simple ceremonies held at the DENR Social Hall on Friday (July 1).

The turnover was attended by all DENR officials including newly appointed Senior Undersecretary Joselin Marcus E. Fragada, bureau and regional directors, and employees. Also present was the Green Thumb Coalition, a group of non-profit organizations which counts the Lopez-led ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation among its members.

“Integrity, public service and the common good are the key deciding factors for any decision that will be taken,” Lopez said on how she will lead the Department.

"The way to go forward is in the spirit of service. The main thing that will determine what we will do is the welfare of our people. We will never do anything that will put at risk the lives of our people. Their life is paramount,” she added.

Lopez also expressed her desire to have a good team in the Department. "We are here not only because we are being paid but because we love God and country."

During the press conference, the new DENR chief announced the President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to conduct an audit of all existing mining operations in the Philippines and to monitor those which have complied with the April 30 deadline for ISO 14001 certification. She added that she would like all mining companies to be certified to be at par with global standards.

"The ISO 14001 is just another way of saying responsible mining. If you’re responsible, then you have to have the highest standards."

She also cited her goal for communities living near biodiversity-rich areas benefit from these. According to her, the Philippines has the "most endemicity per unit area" and the "most flora and fauna exclusive" to it.

She will also campaign for reforestation, initiate environmental summits for the youth and create a helpdesk to attend to the people’s needs. "We’re putting up a hotline and email (account) on a regional level,” she said.

A staunch environmentalist and anti-mining advocate, Lopez said she accepted the post because she sees it as "an opportunity to make something good happen to the country".

Lopez was the chair of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. prior to her new government post. She is the 15th secretary of the Department since it was reorganized as the DENR in 1987.

Meanwhile, Fragada, in his welcome remarks, thanked Paje for his six-year leadership, and welcomed Lopez whose "enthusiasm and energetic behavior" will give the Department a "new brand of leadership".

He added that it will be a mixture of DENR tradition and new innovations that Lopez will introduce in the coming years in pursuit of the mandate to conserve and preserve the country's environment and natural resources.

Paje also took the occasion to thank all employees and rally them to support Lopez. ###

“Integrity, public service and the common good are the key deciding factors for any decision that will be taken,” this is according to the newly appointed DENR Secretary Gina Lopez when asked how she will lead the agency.

“Any industry must bear in mind that the common good is paramount in their operations and not the money they make,” she further said.

A staunch environmentalist, Lopez emphasized the need for the agency to be pro-active and undertake policies and programs, which will ensure that the environment is protected and that natural resources are utilized sustainably.

“The DENR will be a proactive and strategic regulatory agency that will enable the convergence of various sectors so that they may implement strategies that promote area development.”

Lopez recognizes and appreciates the importance of creating space for the participation of civil society. To this end, mechanisms will be created in DENR operations that will guarantee the meaningful engagement of the church, environment NGOs, the youth, farmers and fisherfolk. “It is with their collaboration that we will achieve the change we need,” she said.

The main thrusts of Lopez’s administration are the following: institutional reform and environmental governance; community empowerment; rational minerals management; stronger biodiversity protection; proper ecological solid waste management; and efficient inter-agency collaboration towards clean air, clean water and transformative climate change policies. #

Five forest workers who lost their lives in the line of duty were honored by the Environmental Heroes Foundation Inc. (EHFI) during a simple ceremony held at the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City on last week.

The five received posthumous honors from EHFI – a non-stock, non-profit organization managing an endowment fund for relatives of DENR heroes – for their contribution to the government’s fight against illegal logging.

EHFI board is headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Its members include former DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, retired Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, GMA Network chair Felipe Gozon and former Civil Service Commission (CSC) chair Francisco Duque III.

The honorees are forester Isidro L. de la Peña; forest rangers Logendrin B. Aranca and Wilfredo A. Bayucot; and tree markers Bernabe M. Malijao and Jaime C. Diez.

All five honorees were killed during missions against suspected illegal loggers operating in so-called illegal logging “hotspots” identified by the DENR.

Aside from plaques of recognition, relatives of each honoree received livelihood assistance worth P300,000.

Puno extolled the awardees as “unsung heroes, who have lost their lives to protect our own lives to live.”

“This fight has long started. And it is raging in our forests, in our seas, in our valleys, in our mountains,” said the country’s former top magistrate.

“I hope this foundation (EHFI), known as foundation for environmental heroes, will continue to live our awareness, our consciousness, to the significance of this struggle to protect our environment,” he added.

“The struggle that we cannot lose, a fight we should win by all means, and all the way.”

The EHFI was conceptualized by Puno and Paje in 2012. That same year, then President Benigno Aquino III donated P5 million from the President’s Social Fund as seed money for the foundation.

The CSC also donated some P314,000 generated from a fun run it organized in 2011 during the 111th anniversary of the Philippine Civil Service.

Aranca, 55, and Malijao, 34, died on August 22, 1995 when their motorcycle was ran over by a jeepney they were chasing after its driver refused to stop at the DENR checkpoint along the Siniloan highway in Mabitac town in Laguna. The jeepney was loaded with undocumented narra timber. The driver fled but was later arrested for double murder.

Meanwhile, then 50-year-old Bayucot fell off a motorcycle that was fatally hit by an Isuzu Elf loaded with Gmelina lumber in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur. Bayucot was brought to the hospital and was in critical condition for three days before he died.

Dela Peña was gunned down by an unidentified assailant in Matina, Davao on September 28, 2004, less than a year after he led an arresting team that seized four container vans stocked with undocumented cut lumber. The vans contained an estimated volume of 60,000 to 70,000 board feet of lumber valued up to P1.4 million.

Diez, on the other hand, was shot to death inside his home in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur on February 23, 2012. The investigation revealed that his death had something to do with his role in the confiscation of close to 8,000 pieces equivalent to more than 260,000 board feet of lumber and flitches of mixed dipterocarp in 2011. The contraband had an estimated market value of P2.46 million. ###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has named six more important water bodies across the country as water quality management areas (WQMAs) to better protect them from pollution.

In separate administrative orders signed by outgoing Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, the DENR designated as WQMAs the Naguilan River System in La Union; Cañas-Maalimango Rivers in Cavite; Ayala River in Zamboanga City; Taoloan River Basin in Misamis Oriental; Talomo River in Davao City and Lake Sebu in South Cotabato.

This brings to 31 the total number of WQMAs nationwide, 25 of them were designated under the Aquino administration.

“This is part of our effort to keep the country’s waterways clean and ensure the sustainable water supply for Filipinos,” Paje said.

The environment chief said the designations would help determine what control measures to institute to effectively achieve water quality objectives and improvements in those areas.

WQMAs require serious protection and management action by the local government and its stakeholders.

All six newly designated WQMAs have a combined area of 221,376 hectares of inland water systems, including land portions surrounding the water bodies.

Four of these water bodies are critical to aquifers and irrigation. These are the Naguilan River System, Talomo River, Ayala River and Lake Sebu.

Meanwhile, the designation of Cañas-Maalimango Rivers as WQMA strengthens government compliance with the Supreme Court mandamus on the cleanup of Manila Bay because the two rivers serve as major transport route of pollutants from establishments within the Cavite area.

The Tagoloan River Basin, on the other hand, serves as a repository of all water that stream through from the watershed areas of Bukidnon and Misamis Oriental provinces.

Under Republic Act No. 9275 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 2004, the DENR, in coordination with the National Water Resources Board, to designate certain areas as WQMAs using appropriate physiographic units such as watershed, river basins, or water resources regions to effectively enforce its provisions and improve the water quality of water bodies.

The law seeks to provide a decentralized management system for water quality protection and improvement of river systems.

A total of 25 WQMAs have been designated by the DENR since President Benigno Aquino III came into power in 2010, as against the five WQMAs declared under the previous administration.

The Clean Water Act tasks the DENR to create a governing board for each WQMA, which is chaired by a regional director of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). Its members include the mayor and governor of the concerned local government unit and representatives of relevant national government agencies, duly registered non-government organizations, and business and water utility sectors.

The governing board serves as a planning, monitoring and coordinating body. It also reviews the WQMA action plan prepared by the EMB.

The DENR and the stakeholders address the water quality problems, sources of pollution, and the beneficial use of the receiving water body. They also determine what control measures to institute to effectively achieve water quality objectives or improvements. ###