DENR Region IV-B (MIMAROPA) Took Part in this Year’s 13th Annual

Philippine Cave Congress in Davao del Norte

by: Ma. Grace Laurente-Agatep

            The Philippine Speleological Society, Inc. (PSS), a non-stock, non-profit and non-government organization which serves as the national network of Caving Groups and which has been largely instrumental in the creation of RA 9072 – The Cave Resources Management and Protection Act, held its 13th Annual Philippine Speleological Society Cave Congress with the theme: “Harmonizing Management Interventions for the Sustainable Use of our Caves and Cave Resources”.  The event was conducted on April 8-12, 2013 in Davao Del Norte and hosted by Speleo Davao Inc. in cooperation with the Provincial Government of Davao Del Norte, Municipal Government of New Corella-Davao Del Norte and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau and the Department of Tourism Regional Office (RXI).  The DENR-IVB was represented by the technical staff of the Regional Office and PENROs/CENROs headed by RED Edgardo O. Galeon and RTD for PAWCZMS Gwendolyn C. Bambalan.


       The cave congress was organized to gather all caving clubs in the country and other stakeholders in the conservation and promotions of Philippine caves.  Basically, it aimed to discuss, review and assess current cave management plans and explore different approaches in developing quality cave management plans and promote caving and adventure tourism in the host area by showcasing the natural wonders of the region.  The first two days of plenary sessions were held in Tagum City, Davao Del Norte while the next three days of practical application and technical trainings were held in the Municipality of New Corella, Davao Del Norte.

              Discussions during the plenary sessions included: State of Environmental Management Plans and Implementation in the Philippines by Carlos M. Libosada, Jr. of UP Diliman, DENR’s Approach to Planning and Sustainable Development by Dir. Theresa Mundita S. Lim of DENR-PAWB and presented by Marlynn Mendoza, Importance of Limestone Karst Habitat in the Evolution of Philippine Amphibian and Reptiles by Dr. Arvin C. Diesmos of National Museum, DOT’s Approach to Planning and Sustainable Development by warner Andrada of DOT, Puerto Princesa Underground River History and Tourism Initiatives by James Albert A. Mendoza of DENR-Palawan, State and Conservation Initiatives of the Bats in the Philippines by Dave Walden of Bat Conservation International, Cementing Biodiversity by Dr. Neil Aldrin D. Mallari of Fauna and Flora International, Monfort Cave History and Development Initiatives by Norma Monfort, Caves within Private Land by Atty. Alton Durban of DENR-PAWB, Caves and Tourism by Jason Garrido of PSS.  Before the practicum proper, lectures on Basic Caving Skills, Cave Surveying and Single Rope technique were made.        

           Considering that the Municipality of Corella is famous in Davao del Norte for its number of caves that are potential ecotourism sites, the participants were divided into groups to conduct the survey and mapping, exploration and observation of fauna within the ten caves found in the said municipality as part of their practicum.  Among the caves sighted and observed, Borja Cave was recommended for reclassification from Cave Classification III to Cave Classification II.  If its reclassification will prosper, caving activities within the area will be properly monitored and controlled ensuring its propriety as ecotourism destination without prejudicing its cave resources within.

News

DENR slaps criminal charge against Ipilan Nickel Corporation

 

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July 14, 2017. Puerto Princesa City. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources, through Brooke’s Point Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer Conrado Corpuz, files today at the Office of the Provincial Prosecutor a criminal charge against Ipilan Nickel Corporation for violation of Section 77 of Presidential Decree 705 or the Forestry Code of the Philippines.

The case filed by DENR involves a 1.7 hectare area out of the total 24-hectare forest cleared by Ipilan Nickel Corporation in Barangay Maasin, Brooke’s Point which DENR argues to be undoubtedly outside the company’s tree cutting permit.

DENR issued INC a special tree cutting permit in May 2016 as part of its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA). However, former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez cancelled INC’s environmental compliance certificate (ECC) on December 16, 2016, rendering its tree cutting permit invalid. INC argues its tree cutting permit remains valid.

“Granting without admitting that INC’s tree cutting permit was valid, DENR has a strong case against the company on the 1.7-hectare cleared area,” asserts DENR MIMAROPA Regional Director Natividad Bernardino.

“This is just the first in a series of cases against INC,” says Corpuz. He said that DENR will also file other charges against INC upon completion of the inventory of the trees cut in the remaining 22.3 hectares. The onset of the rainy season and the huge number of felled trees has slowed down the retrieval and inventory of trees.

DENR is also investigating another violation – the construction of a mine yard road without clearance from DENR. Apart from this, Brooke’s Point Mayor Jean Feliciano is also batting to revoke the SEP (Strategic Environmental Plan) clearance issued by the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development to INC.

“INC is criminally liable and Secretary Roy Cimatu wants to ensure that irresponsible miners do not get around the law,” says Palawan Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Officer Felizardo B. Cayatoc referring to the Secretary’s instruction to not let INC off the hook.Further, President Rodrigo R. Duterte announced on July 12, 2017 that mining companies must make up for the destructive impact of their operations on the livelihood of farmers and fishpond owners.

“With the string of cases facing INC, there is little chance it will be allowed to continue its mining operations,” adds Bernardino.

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