Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources in MIMAROPA Region is set to conduct further investigation to determine if sewage water from nearby establishments also drain to an outfall that recently discharged black water into Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palawan.

From an initial joint report by the region’s Environmental Management Bureau and El Nido Protected Area Management Office, Brgy. Masagana Chairman Edilberto Templado confirmed that the discharged water was due to his directive to clear the outfall so that rainwater would drain into the sea and prevent flooding in the village.

He explained that the outfall drains the water coming from the nearby mountains and those that pass through the national highway, Tabanca Road and some portions of Brgy. Maligaya.  During high tide, however, sands build up and block the outfall, causing water to settle and eventually flood the village especially during typhoons.

Templado said he ordered the waterway to be cleared to prevent the town from being inundated by the other night’s rainfall. The channel opened and eventually flushed out the stagnant, black water seen in Bacuit Bay on October 22.  He maintained that what flowed from the outfall was not sewage water as most establishments in the area are still not operational.

Nevertheless, the DENR is already taking actions to make sure that the said waterway does not release dirty water into the bay.

“We have taken water samples for testing and we will also conduct tracing to determine if there are commercial establishments that drain their wastewater into that outfall,” said EMB MIMAROPA Regional Director Michael Drake Matias.

The water samples are tested for Fecal Coliform, Total Suspended Solids, Dissolved Oxygen, Nitrate, Phosphate, pH, Color and Temperature. As of press time, the DENR and EMB are still waiting for the results of the tests.

 Besides these initiatives, RD Matias said the subject outfall shall likewise be included in stations regularly monitored, such as Cabugao, El Nido Estero, Masagana and Corong-corong.

These outfalls from four priority barangays, namely Buena Suerte, Maligaya, Masagana and Corong-corong are under strict monitoring as part of the government's efforts to rehabilitate El Nido's Bacuit Bay, portions of which were found polluted due to the discharge of untreated wastewater by several commercial establishments.

“We cannot afford to have another outfall that would degrade the water quality of Bacuit Bay, especially now that El Nido is slowly re-opening for tourism,” expressed DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Maria Lourdes Ferrer.

“Just like before, we bank on our partnership with the LGU, the business sector, and the community, to prevent any form of destruction in our environment, and completely restore the beautiful island of El Nido,” the director concluded. ###

 

Just like the bamboo which resists breaking when placed under stress, the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) in Marinduque maintained its grace under pressure and emerged as the champion of DENR MIMAROPA’s first online bamboo quiz bee held via Zoom on September 29.

Organized by the Region's National Greening Program, the virtual contest was anchored on the theme of this year's World Bamboo Day Celebration, "Pamanang Kawayan: Luntiang Ginto ng Kagubatan."

Team Rhizome from PENRO Marinduque bested 14 other groups which represented the field offices in MIMAROPA, namely Team Bamboolicious (PENRO Occidental Mindoro), Team Bam n’ Boo  (CENRO Sablayan), Team Bambusa (CENRO San Jose), Team Bamboohay (PENRO Oriental Mindoro), Team Bamboostic (CENRO Socorro), Team Camp Kawayan Babies (CENRO Roxas), Team Bamboomtaratarat (PENRO Romblon), Team Bamboorikit (PENRO Palawan), Team Sitio Bayog (CENRO Brooke’s Point), Team Corona Bamboos (CENRO Coron), Team Princesang Kawayan (CENRO Puerto Princesa),  Team Vulgaries Beauties (CENRO Quezon), Team Lucky Bamboo (CENRO Taytay), and Team Camp Patong Matinik (CENRO Roxas).

Competing with the best of the best was not easy and Team Rhizome admitted they had barely enough time to review because they also needed to meet deadlines on accomplishing office targets. Nonetheless, the quiz bee champ said they counted on teamwork and a relaxed mindset to win the contest.

“We’re not able to hold a group review. I just handed out old reference materials to my teammates perhaps a day or two before the contest,” Forester Ellen Paranaque, leader of Team Rhizome shared.

“But we made it probably because we also got a good combination of team members; we have Foresters and a technician and we’re all familiar with the NGP process. We trusted each other and tried to stay calm so we can think of the correct answer,” she added.

Team Vulgaris Beauties (CENRO Quezon) bagged the second place, and Team Corona Bamboos (CENRO Coron) went home as a third placer after breaking a tie with Team Princesang Kawayan (CENRO Puerto Princesa).

The quiz bee was composed of three rounds, namely easy, average and difficult. Questions included bamboo terminology, growth habit, genera and species, propagation methods, and other interesting facts and trivia. The quiz also covered general information on the National Greening Program (NGP), such as its implementing guidelines and activities.

“This is our way to enhance the knowledge of our field personnel and at the same time, educate our stakeholders on the ecological and economic benefits of bamboo,” Regional Executive Director Maria Lourdes G. Ferrer noted.

Referred to as the “green gold,” bamboo is gaining recognition as a sustainable alternative to wood and an effective instrument to combat climate change. It is for these reasons that the government is geared towards planting more bamboo trees. In a statement at the budget hearing in the House of Representatives, Secretary Roy Cimatu imparted that the DENR “intends to make amendments in the ENGP to increase the country’s production of bamboo.”

The Secretary said that for 2020, the DENR targets to plant bamboo trees to 16, 867 hectares of land nationwide. In MIMAROPA Region, bamboo trees have already been planted to 60% of the targeted 81 hectares of land as of September 2020.

The DENR MIMAROPA online bamboo quiz bee was the region’s first virtual battle of the brains, and among its efforts to continue performing its mandates while adapting to the new normal.

Getting a reliable internet connection remained as one of the challenges noted in the activity, but the participants took it from the distinct trait of the bamboo, and did not allow wobbly network access to wear them down.

“We admire the participants’ enthusiasm and display of sportsmanship. And we hope they maintain these traits not only in competitions like this, but more importantly in performing their duties,” DENR MIMAROPA NGP Coordinator Manuel Escasura remarked.

The DENR MIMAROPA and its regional NGP wish to extend their gratitude to all those who supported the program, most especially the judges who made time to join the event, namely Assistant Regional Director Bighani Manipula, Ms. Marilyn Limpiada, Chief of Planning and Management Division, Ms. Ruby Bautista, Chief of Finance Division, and Forester Gregorio Santos, Jr., Head of Urban and Biodiversity Research, Development and Extension Center of the  Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB). ###

As the whole nation exults in Palawan’s reclaim of World’s Best Island title, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in MIMAROPA Region calls for  stronger, concerted efforts to conserve the province’s natural beauty; and urges those wishing to have a piece of the island paradise, to exercise due diligence before sealing a deal on land investments.

Palawan bagged the title for the fourth time (2013, 2016, 2017) based on the survey conducted by international travel magazine, Travel + Leisure, among its readers. The province bested 24 other islands in the world in terms of natural attractions, resorts and overall value.

Dubbed as the country’s last ecological frontier, Palawan often tops the A-list of tourist destinations because of its rich biodiversity, idyllic beaches, landscapes and overall scenery. Only recently, another international travel publication, the Condé Nast Traveler, hailed the Hidden Beach in El Nido, Palawan, as one of the “30 Best Beaches in the World.”

The DENR anticipates that recent distinctions received by the province would attract more tourists once travel restriction due to the pandemic eases up. With this, the agency stated that the public may expect continuous and more stringent enforcement of laws to ensure integrity of the environment amid influx of tourists and other related activities.

Further, the DENR also urges the public, especially those who would want to acquire real properties for business or leisure purposes in the province, to exercise due diligence when dealing with land investments.

“The distinctions enhance the value of land properties in Palawan, and we regard it as an opportunity to invigorate the real estate business, which at some point, got laid back due to the global health crisis we are all facing,” DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Ma. Lourdes Ferrer, expressed.

While this may signal the revival of the province’s economic status, the director  cautioned land investors to bank on rightfully informed decisions to avoid getting entangled with illegal transactions or anomalous titling of real property.

Albeit lauded as one of the most sought after tourist attractions in the world, Palawan has its share of challenges in terms of illegal settling and unlawful occupation.

“That is why our first advice to land investors--check the status of the property you are eyeing for. Know which classifications of land can be occupied, and take note of legal proofs of ownership from the seller before buying the land,” the Director warned stakeholders against individuals or companies that may take advantage of the situation.

As a starter, RED Ferrer underscored the provisions of Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines issued on May 19, 1975, which specifies that no person may utilize, exploit, occupy, possess or conduct any activity within any forestland, unless he has been authorized to do so under a license agreement, lease, license, or permit.

As for lands classified as alienable and disposable (A & D), the director explained that land titles could not be obtained by simply showing a certification from the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office of these areas’ land classification as such,  more so a tax declaration for both land and improvements (structure).

“We hope to enlighten the public as we often encounter this issue on land title application. The certification issued by the CENRO as well as tax declarations, are only requirements in showing proof of ownership. They are not in any way, tantamount to a clean title of ownership,” she pointed out.

RED Ferrer shared that stakeholders may seek clarification or guidance on land application matters from the  DENR MIMAROPA regional or provincial and community offices. While some of its stations are temporarily closed in observance of health standards against COVID-19, the agency may still be reached online though these contact details This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..ph, and (02) 8428 - 3367, 8429-3367 local 2701.

“We will always be proud of our very own Palawan, because its beauty is recognized worldwide and its unique biodiversity propels social and economic progress. These are the very reasons why we are geared towards tougher protection and conservation efforts, and why we are calling on everybody to do their share in protecting this special piece of land, so that we may judiciously enjoy its most beneficial use, at present and in the future,”  RED Ferrer concluded.###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources - MIMAROPA Region has issued Notice to Vacate (NTV) against certain individuals including Beatriz Zobel de Ayala for unlawful occupation of a timberland which is also part of the Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape (MSPLS) in Taytay, Palawan.

The Notice, which was signed by Taytay CENR Officer Alan Valle on March 3, 2020, cited violation of the provisions of Republic Act 7586 as amended by RA 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) Act of 2018.

The law prohibits (n) occupying or dwelling in any public land within the protected area without clearance from the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB).

It also forbids (o) constructing, erecting, or maintaining any kind of structure, fence or enclosure, conducting any business enterprise within the protected area without prior clearance from the PAMB and permit from the DENR, or conducting these activities in a manner that is inconsistent with the management plan duly approved by the PAMB.

The PAMB, the sole policy-making and decision-making body of MSPLS pursuant to the provisions of E-NIPAS Act of 2018 has neither accepted from the respondents, any application for tenurial instrument nor approved any construction of structures in the said area.

Also stated in the NTV is the respondents’ violation of Presidential Decree 705 or the  Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines which prohibits occupation of timberland areas without proper tenurial instrument issued by the DENR.

The illegal occupants were given 30 days upon receipt of the notice to comply, otherwise further legal actions shall be taken against them. The DENR has been monitoring the respondents’ compliance with the NTV, but was restricted due to the enhanced quarantine protocols implemented against the further spread of COVID-19.

The agency has likewise furnished a copy of the NTV to Felipe Valones in response to his letter dated May 18, 2020, which appealed for the agency to look into the alleged occupation and tree-cutting in the protected area. Valones is the Chieftain of indigenous people’s group Nagkakaisang Tribu Tandolanon Barangay Pancol.

Through this release, DENR MIMAROPA would like to shed light on some information in the article “DENR probe urged on El Nido reclamation,” which was published by The Manila Times on June 13, 2020.” The news story said that Palawan-based Environmental Legal Assistance Center headed by Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda has claimed that despite knowledge of the issue, the DENR has “not done any concrete actions to address these problems.

“Records and the date of the issued NTV show that even before receipt of the said letter from Mr. Valones, DENR has already conducted investigation and has taken appropriate actions against the respondents, contrary to what was stated in the article,” Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado explained.

“We earnestly hope that with the above-mentioned details, we have given ELAC and the general public, the clear course of actions that we have undertaken to address the matter. Our office is open for clarification so that confusion shall be avoided in publishing wrong information,” the Director remarked. ###

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is looking forward to the swift resolution of the case involving the illegal arrest and police brutality suffered by a team of environmental enforcers at the hands of Puerto Princesa City Police Director Col. Marion Balonglong.

Balonglong reportedly caused the unlawful arrest and detention of eight employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and two others while they were doing field work at Barangay Iwahig in Puerto Princesa City last June 10.

Cimatu expressed outrage at what he called an isolated case, believing it would not affect the “cordial relationship and collaborative partnership” between the DENR and the Philippine National Police (PNP) in enforcing environmental laws.

“As much as I’m furious at what happened to my men, I hope this incident won’t affect the cordial relationship and collaborative partnership the DENR has with the PNP in the fight against environmental crime,” Cimatu said.

The DENR chief said he already brought the matter to Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo M. Año, who has supervisory authority over the PNP.

According to reports reaching the DENR Central Office in Quezon City, the DENR workers—together with a representative from the city government’s Bantay Bakawan and a barangay watchman—were conducting an investigation on the illegal occupation and massive mangrove cutting at Sitio Bucana when they were intercepted by Balonglong and his men.

The DENR employees, who are assigned at the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Puerto Princesa City, consisted of three foresters, four forest rangers and one forest protection officer.

At first, the DENR team thought Balonglong’s group was the police security they requested to assist them in their operation until they were suddenly subjected to full body search and told to lie down on the ground.

Balonglong even repeatedly kicked and punched at gunpoint one of the forest rangers, Roldan Alvarez, whom he accused of stealing galvanized iron sheets.

After the body search, all 10 of them were ordered to board a police service vehicle which brought them to a vacant lot supposedly owned by Balonglong.  There, the police chief made Alvarez to kneel while he and his companions were being interrogated on their purpose of going to the mangrove site.

They were later brought to the police station in Barangay San Pedro where CENR Officer Felizardo Cayatoc, who approved of the DENR operation, pleaded for their release. 

Balonglong ordered their release following a long dialogue and after Cayatoc agreed to sign a document stating that the DENR personnel were in good mental and physical condition when they were turned over to him.

Members of the DENR team were harassed, arrested and detained by Balonglong and his men in the absence of a warrant and without citing any violation.  Alvarez sustained wounds and bruises due to Balonglong’s beating.

Upon learning about the incident, Cimatu could not hide his outrage.  “It is totally unacceptable that these environmental enforcers who continue to perform their duties despite the COVID-19 pandemic have to suffer violence at the hands of the police, who should be assisting them in their operations,” he said.

The former Armed Forces chief said the DENR will assist its employees in pursuing legal action against Balonglong and his men. # 

 

DENR press releases and other news/feature articles are posted at the DENR website: www.denr.gov.ph. For queries/comments, write: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.