The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has taken necessary measures to mitigate the impact of an oil spill incident off the town of Jasaaan, Misamis Oriental province last April 3, Black Saturday.
The oil spill resulted from the sinking of cargo vessel MV Racal IV that has been docked in a shipyard in the coastal town of Jasaan for five years.
"In incidents such as these, our goal is to always protect the ecosystem, the biodiversity it hosts, and the people in the area," DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu said.
Cimatu said the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) in Region 10 has been working in coordination with the local government of Jasaan and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to prevent further contamination of coastal communities.
Based on the initial investigation led by EMB-Region 10 Regional Director Reynaldo Digamo and his team of technical experts, three tons of bunker oil has contaminated one square kilometer portion of the bay, affecting five barangays namely, Lower Jasaan, Upper Jasaan, Luz Banzon, Kimaya and Solana.
The EMB-Region 10 also observed a "faint odor" from the spill that persisted, particularly along the coast of Barangay Luz Banzon, which was severely affected by the incident.
It said that accumulated oil debris was also seen in mangrove trees and docked boats, thus affecting the livelihood of the fisherfolk in affected villages.
Digamo said PCG-Region 10 has commissioned Far East Fuel Corp., a registered transport, storage, and disposal facility, to remove and transport the collected oil and oil-contaminated materials.
"We have already coordinated with the owner of the vessel and the local government unit, the PCG, and the fisherfolk residents near the area to prevent further contamination," Digamo said.
MV Racal IV owners Sherwin Doctora and Dr. Lord Sanny Salvaña have committed to pay for the damages during a meeting with Jasaan Mayor Redentor Jardin, municipal and provincial officials, and EMB-Region 10.
Citing the assessment of the PCG-Region 10, the EMB-Region 10 reported that 80 percent of the spilled oil has been removed.
Digamo said the EMB-Region 10 will conduct an in-depth investigation on the incident. ###
DENR launches Climate and Disaster Resiliency Recognition Awards
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), throuh its Gender and Development (GAD) Office and Climate Change Service (CCS), recently launched "Mga Kwentong KLIMA-likasan Tungo sa Katatagan: A Climate and Disaster Resiliency Recognition Awards."
DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the awards aim to give recognition to Filipino "movers and workers" who have been making change to bolster climate and disaster resiliency.
"This award will be a testament of the zeal and passion of all the people who do not merely talk but labor in the peripherals to bring knowledge and assistance on climate change concerns to those who need them most," Cimatu said.
The Climate and Disaster Resiliency Recognition Awards, which is in support to the Global Good Stories Movement, seek to recognize the stories of individuals, both women and men, and groups on the impacts of climate change and disasters in their communities, and on how they are addressing them through pursuing relevant programs on environmental protection and conservation, climate change, and disaster risk reduction.
The Global Good Stories Movement is a movement of people who share the common belief that "we can change the story of the world by changing the storyline."
"We know there are pockets of good stories and narratives at different levels. As we seek them out, document and publicize them, we hope such can create even more ripples of hope for expanded good stories," said Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, DENR Undersecretary for Finance, Information Systems, and Climate Change, and the Chairperson of DENR National GAD Focal Point System.
The nationwide search is open to good stories about women leadership, community livelihood development, integrated water resources management, and coastal/upland protection.
It is also on the lookout for stories about critical resilient infrastructure, climate and disaster information services, solid waste management, marine conservation, and coastal governance, road sharing and non-motorized mobility, edible landscaping and food gardens.
Stories on eco-governance, environmental legislation, environmental education, arts for the earth, environmental jurisprudence, youth leadership, environmental diplomacy, marine enforcement, renewable energy, cultural heritage, beach restoration, environmental litigation, water use and recycling, are also welcome.
The initiatives should have been going on at least for the last three years, until to date, or at least, since 2018.
The entries will be judged according to the following criteria: climate and disaster resiliency content (60 percent), visual appeal of the photographs and video (30 percent), and geographical reach of the initiative (10 percent).
The winners of the Climate and Disaster Resiliency Recognition Awards will be awarded P50,000 for first prize, P40,000 for second prize, and P30,000 for third prize.
Consolation prizes of P15,000 each will also be given to seven selected entries.
The winners will be announced and awarded by the end of June 2021 as part of the celebration of the Philippine Environment Month.
Entries may also be submitted to the nearest DENR Community or Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office or DENR regional offices. ###
DENR issues guidelines on management of lands formed adjacent to water bodies
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has released a set of guidelines on the disposition of lands formed by accretion adjacent to agricultural areas, and management of river islets and dried creeks and river beds.
Secretary Roy A. Cimatu signed DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2020-16 as he recognized the urgent need to revisit and improve policies and procedures pertaining to the survey, disposition, and management of public lands on unstable and impermanent land forms.
The DAO is pursuant to Executive Order No. 192 or the Reorganization Act of DENR of 1987, Republic Act No. 9729 otherwise known as the Climate Change Act of 2009, Republic Act No. 10121 known as the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010, Public Land Act, and Civil Code of the Philippines.
"Although there are already laws related to the disposition of public lands, it is still necessary to expand and establish several guidelines related to water and land for compliance and awareness of stakeholders," Cimatu said.
The guidelines support the basic duty of the government in ensuring the "efficient conservation, management, development, safety, security, equitable distribution and use of the country’s environment and natural resources."
"DAO 2020-16 was issued to strengthen rules on the protection and management of the environment, mitigate possible illegal developments, intervene environmental degradation and essentially uphold the safety of Filipinos in terms of land use," Cimatu said.
The DENR guidelines state that all islets, such as sandbars and delta shall not be subjected to any mode of titling, unless declared as open for disposition through a law enacted by the Congress or presidential proclamation.
DENR defined islets as small islands formed by actions of the sea, river, or other bodies of water, which are unstable and impermanent in nature. Meanwhile, dried creeks and river beds shall not be alienated since these belong to the State as property of public dominion pursuant to Article 502 of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
The DENR regional office, through the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), and designated divisions from the regional offices shall assess and determine the physical and biological conditions, including ecology, geology, topography, hydrology, soil quality, and exposure to environmental and climate risks of the lands.
In extreme cases, these areas may be designated as no-build zone areas, it added.
Meanwhile, lands formed by accretion within a block classified as agricultural land may be opened for disposition in accordance with the provisions of Commonwealth Act 141, as amended, or the Public Land Act, and Section 2, Chapter 2 of Book II, Title II of the Civil Code of the Philippines.
DAO 2020-16 states that if the lot is already titled, the land owner shall have the land surveyed and approved, and proceed to the courts for acquisition. However, if the lot is still untitled, the land shall be surveyed and approved for administrative titling. The claimant of the lot may opt to consolidate the untitled lot for the filing of public land application.
In addition, lands formed within non-navigable or non-floatable lakes and rivers "shall be governed by the provisions of Article 465 of the Civil Code." The DAO said that disposition of these lands shall be subject to additional clearance or certification from the MGB regional office. The CENRO shall secure the clearance or certification to determine the physical and geological condition of the area and whether it is fit for habitation or human settlement.
Under the implementation of these guidelines, the law on easements under Article 51 of Presidential Decree 1067 or the Water Code of the Philippines and DAO 99-21 and 92-13 shall also be strictly observed. ###
DENR-BMB releases study on economic value of marine turtles, blue-naped parrots
The Biodiversity Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-BMB) has conducted an economic valuation study of threatened species to bring greater appreciation and attention to the economic benefit of wildlife conservation.
DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu is optimistic that the result of the study will allow "more people to be inspired in conserving and protecting our wildlife."
The report was released in time for the celebration of the World Wildlife Day on March 3.
"We hope that in popularizing the findings, we can entice more Filipinos to think about the long-term benefits of our wildlife such as marine turtles and blue-naped parrots, and not just short-time gains," Cimatu said.
The study, which was conducted under the DENR-Asian Development Bank (ADB)/Global Environment Facility (GEF) Project on Combating Environmental Organized Crime in the Philippines, aims "to recognize the bigger picture," as the protection of wildlife not only keeps ecosystems balanced, but eventually benefits human well-being.
Environmental economist and study leader Dr. Agustin Arcenas said "the economic valuation of resources is vital in monitoring whether steps to protect these resources are effective, as well as evaluating the efficiency of projects and programs geared toward managing the resources, especially in situations where no other feasible metric currently exists."
Based on the DENR-ADB/GEF study, one marine turtle is projected to have an economic use value of P4.80 million (estimated US$95,900) throughout its 57-year lifetime.
This is based on its ecological role in coastal and marine ecosystems (P900,000 per turtle) and on the tourism value it generates (P3.90 million per turtle).
Meanwhile, the annual use value of the entire population of the Philippine marine turtle, which is conservatively estimated at 7,294 individuals by the DENR-BMB, ranged between P2.89 billion and P3.19 billion (US$57.88-63.85 million) per year.
The study also showed that the blue-naped parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis) is estimated to have an economic use value of P186,000 (US$3,700) throughout its six-year lifetime.
This is based on its trade value and tourism value (P5,000/blue-naped parrot when combined) and its ecological role in forest ecosystems (P181,000/blue-naped parrot).
The entire Philippine parrot population was estimated at 8,500 individuals, according to wildlife conservation group Katala Foundation. Its annual use value ranged between P36.23 million and P295.19 million (US$724,500-5.90 million) per year.
Complementing the study findings, a willingness to pay survey was conducted in Cebu and Manila by the DENR-ADB/GEF Project to estimate the non-use value of marine turtles and blue-naped parrots.
It amounted to an annual value of P9.30 billion for the Philippine marine turtle population and P33.38 billion for the local blue-naped parrot population.
This is in stark contrast to the traded value of one blue-naped parrot, which is only P5,000 (estimated at US$100).
The buying price per blue-naped parrot in Brgy. Buliluyan, Bataraza town in Palawan, is even lower at only P200 (US$ 4.1), the study pointed out.
"This just shows that when protecting the wildlife, we get more value in the long run," Cimatu said.
The DENR Administrative Order No. 2019-09 on the updated list of Philippine threatened fauna and their categories classifies the hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) and leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) as "critically endangered" while the loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), Green turtle (Chelonia mydas) and olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) as “endangered”.
The same Department Order classifies the blue-naped parrot as “critically endangered”. Marine turtles and the blue-naped parrot are also listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Appendices, affording different levels of protection from over-exploitation.
They are likewise included in the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of threatened species.
DENR-BMB Wildlife Resources Division OIC chief Theresa Tenazas explained that the economic valuation study will "support efforts to amend the 20-year-old Wildlife Act."
"The proposed Revised Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2021, which was filed by Senators Cynthia Villar and Juan Miguel Zubiri, aims to increase penalties to up to 20 years of jail time with maximum fines of P2 million or twice the value for traded species," she said.
Cimatu said the DENR is looking forward to conducting more studies on economic valuation for other species of wildlife in the coming years. ###
Gov’t begins Bicol River rehab as long-term solution to perennial flooding
The ceremonial sandbar dredging and bamboo planting along Bicol River on March 23 signaled the massive rehabilitation of the country's eighth largest waterway, under the Bicol River Restoration Project led by the Task Force Build Back Better (TF BBB).
The TF BBB, chaired by Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, was tasked by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte to conduct post-disaster rehabilitation and recovery programs in areas struck by four successive destructive cyclones in 2020.
DENR Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia, who represented Cimatu during the project launch on March 23, announced the approval of President Duterte to construct seven flood control projects and rehabilitate flood gates and pumping stations along the Bicol River system.
"To provide long-term protection to the people of Bicol region is the reason why we are pursuing the construction of flood control projects, a sustainable dredging program and river bank restoration in the Bicol River," Garcia said.
The event held in Camaligan, Camarines Sur was also attended by TF BBB-Bicol Region ground commander and National Housing Authority General Manager Marcelino Escalada Jr., Camarines Sur Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte, and Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte Jr.
"Our short, medium, and long-term plans for these areas are already in place," Garcia said, referring to TF BBB's rehabilitation and recovery initiatives in Cagayan River and Marikina River since February, and now, the Bicol River.
Jerry Fano, head of the Project Office of the Flood Control Management Cluster of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), explained that the drainage capacity of Bicol River has been greatly reduced, especially in its downstream section.
Bicol River's average width of 80 meters has narrowed to 55 meters, which significantly contributed to the widespread flooding in the region's outlying areas.
The DPWH has identified 10 sites for immediate dredging of an estimated total volume of 1.63 million cubic meters of sandbars, Fano said.
"This dredged material is equivalent to 200 Olympic-sized swimming pools," he said.
An Olympic-sized pool measures 50 meters long, 25 meters wide and has a minimum depth of two meters.
Fano said the DPWH will also dredge 9.4 million cubic meters of silt along Lake Bato, specifically at the junction of Naporog River and Quinale “A” River.
Bicol River is the eighth largest river in the country in terms of drainage basin size.
Ninety percent (90%) of Bicol River is in Camarines Sur and Albay, while the rest lies in Camarines Norte. ###