Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has taken a crucial step to further protect the rich marine biodiversity within two of the country's most famous diving spots by declaring these sites as water quality management areas (WQMAs).

In two separate administrative orders signed by Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje earlier this month, the DENR designated the Sabang Bay in Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro and the Coron Bay in Palawan as WQMAs, bringing the total number of WQMAs in the country to 25.

The initiative is seen to boost efforts to protect the bustling biodiversity within the two water bodies from the unwanted effects of tourism activities in those areas.

Both Sabang Bay and Coron Bay are world-class diving sites with great visibility and masses of underwater life, making them as among the favorite destinations for tourists and diving enthusiasts.

"These latest WQMA designations are critical to effectively address development issues on safeguarding the areas’ ecosystem qualities from the rapid growth of tourism activities in the towns of Coron and Puerto Galera, while sustaining the economic benefits for the local host communities," Paje said.

As diving tourism and the associated residential and commercial developments "exert a considerable pressure on the ecological fabric" of the two bay areas, Paje said there is absolutely a need to ensure that their water qualities comply with the standards prescribed under Republic Act No. 9275, or the Philippine Clean Water Act.

He added that strong reliance on healthy and attractive coral reefs makes the tourism sector in Coron and Puerto Galera "particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change."
According to the environment chief, the WQMA designation would provide the DENR, local government units, communities and other stakeholders identify the water quality problems, sources of pollution and the beneficial use of Sabang Bay and Coron Bay.
It would also help stakeholders determine what control measures to institute to effectively achieve water quality objectives or improvements.

The Coron Bay WQMA covers the bay itself and eight of the 23 barangays comprising the entire town of Coron.

An analysis of Coron’s water resources and its distribution showed that the rivers traversing the town drain into a drainage area of 5.5 hectares located inside the eight coastal villages.

The aquatic views from the sunken World War II Japanese ships in Coron Bay are listed in Forbes Traveler Magazine’s top 10 best scuba diving sites in the world.

On the other hand, the Sabang Bay WQMA covers the bay itself, which is part of the world famous Verde Island Passage, and the whole Barangay Sabang covering 449 hectares.

West of Sabang Bay, separated by the Batangas Channel, is the Muelle Bay which is the only bay in the Philippines listed in the “Club of the Most Beautiful Bays of the World” by the Paris-based Club Des Plus Belles Baies Du Monde in 2005.

Despite its relatively small size, Barangay Sabang is critical to the bay’s overall water quality as 283 hectares or 63 percent of its land area serves as the drainage site for all the surface water from Puerto Galera’s 12 other barangays. ###

Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje renewed his call for Filipinos to help in the fight to save and protect the majestic Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), as the nation celebrates the Philippine Eagle Week (PEW) from June 4-10.

This developed as the juvenile Philippine eagle earlier rescued after being accidentally caught in a trap in Aurora province was formally turned over to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Thursday, giving conservationists hope for the critically endangered raptor.

“The Philippine eagle is a unique heritage, found only in this part of the world that needs to be nurtured as it is the Filipino people’s gift to the global community,” Paje said, as the DENR gears up for the weeklong celebration of PEW, with the theme “Saving eagles, Protecting forests, Securing our future: Stop the Killings.”

According to the environment chief, the Philippine eagle has continued to brave the challenges to its survival, particularly habitat destruction and hunting.

The wildlife conservation community has been shocked with recent news of Philippine eagles being killed, the latest of which was Pamana, a three-year-old raptor that was found with a bullet hole in its right breast in Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary in Davao Oriental, in August last year.

“There is a need to usher in a renewed commitment to protect the eagle and other wildlife from extinction and allow them to perpetuate for future generations,” Paje pointed out.

He added: “If we wish to sustain our ecosystems that support human lives, we need to embrace a new paradigm that upholds respect for all forms of wildlife, not only as food source but more so as co-creatures worthy of preservation.”

Meanwhile, the rescued juvenile Philippine eagle was received by the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), which is now assessing the raptor before transferring it to a cage inside the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center (NAPWC) in Quezon City for rehabilitation.

The eagle was brought to the NAPWC by DENR community officer Jimmy Aberin all the way from Dingalan town in Aurora. Aberin said the raptor was accidentally ensnared in a trap meant to catch monkeys in a forested area in the nearby town of San Luis.

The trapper, a certain upland farmer named Eugene, rescued the eagle and later sought help from their barangay captain who promptly informed the DENR.

BMB Director Theresa Mundita Lim was pleased with the rescue of the eagle, which seemed relatively unharmed, saying it “bodes well for the country’s conservation program.”

She commended the locals for showing their awareness of the Philippine eagle, including the possible consequences of keeping it captive.

The magnificent raptor is considered the country’s national bird and is protected by Philippine laws particularly Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act.

Under the law, killing or harming the eagle, considered to be critically endangered, carries maximum penalties of 12 years imprisonment and a fine of P1 million.

“The presence of a healthy juvenile eagle in Aurora means that a pair of adult eagles has successfully bred and raised their young as well as our hopes for the species’ continued presence in the Sierra Madre region,” Lim said.

The BMB chief also underscored the importance of protecting known habitats of the world’s largest eagle. “This is a species which largely depends on the availability of viable forest habitats to survive. We should therefore do all we can to protect and increase our forest cover.”

To enhance public awareness on the country’s flagship endemic species, the BMB has collaborated with the management of Enchanted Kingdom (EK) in Sta. Rosa Laguna for the PEW’s kickoff program on June 4.

Fun learning activities have been prepared by the EK production team, including an Agila costume contest, online art competition, eagle dance parade, interactive storytelling, the “Agilaro Challenge” that mimics the Amazing Race, and a Philippine eagle photo exhibit.

The festivities will be covered and featured on ABS-CBN’s science-environmental educational program “Matanglawin.”

The NAPWC will also host educational activities on June 4 and 5. The BMB, in partnership with the Wild Bird Club of the Philippines, will hold coloring, face painting, guided tour and storytelling activities for kids.

DENR field offices nationwide are likewise scheduled to carry out intensified campaigns on the conservation of the Philippine eagle.

The celebration of June 4-10 as Philippine Eagle Week was declared through Presidential Proclamation No. 79 issued in 1999. ###

There should be no letup in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.

This was the message of Environment Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje as he leads the local celebration of the World Environment Day (WED) for the sixth and final time on June 5. This year's theme is "Go Wild for Life, Combat Biodiversity Loss."

It will be a fitting end to Paje's six-year term as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which under his watch has made remarkable strides in the campaign against poaching and illicit trade of wildlife species.

"This is an advocacy that we hold close to our hearts," said Paje, who is scheduled to step down from office on June 30 to give way to the next administration.

Since 2010, the DENR has been successful in seizing elephant tusks, marine and forest turtles, Palawan pangolins and other endangered animals from poachers and illegal wildlife traders.

Paje said the fight against illegal wildlife trade must continue, noting that the "extinction of species is irreversible and losses are permanent."

The DENR has been implementing programs to conserve threatened species such as the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi), Philippine tarsier (Carlito syrichta), marine turtles, Philippine tamaraw (Bubalus mindorensis), and Philippine crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis).

These conservation efforts have increased the population of tamaraw to 405 in 2015 from 382 in the previous year, and the Philippine cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) to 535 in 2015 from 239 in 2010. Sightings of the majestic Philippine eagle also increased from 39 to 47.

Between 2010 and 2015, at least 70 new wildlife species were also discovered, which include birds, reptiles, amphibians and rodents.

To combat ivory smuggling and other illegal wildlife trade and support the international community in these causes, the Philippines made a historical breakthrough in 2013 when it became the first non-elephant range country and the pioneer in Asia to destroy more than four (4) tons of illegal elephant ivory and created a task force called Philippine Operations Group on Ivory (POGI).

Since then, twelve countries have followed this bold step. These are the United States, China, France, Chad, Belgium, Hongkong, Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Congo, United Arab Emirates and Thailand.

“It was not easy but we stood up because we know it was the right thing to do. We were able to convey our strong message to the world that the Philippines condemns the killing of elephants for ivory harvest and we do not tolerate illegal ivory trade,” added Paje.

The DENR also intensified its enforcement of wildlife laws, which led to the filing of 75 cases and eight convictions.

"We recognize the help of vigilant citizens and organizations which have led to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the culprits behind this despicable act," Paje said.

Despite these achievements, Paje said more needs to be done to combat illegal wildlife trade.

"Driven by high profits, illegal wildlife trade continues. Thus, we must continue, expand and intensify efforts to curb this illicit business, including the importation to the country of invasive species," Paje pointed out.

The environment chief likewise rallied the public to continue supporting the government’s campaign against illegal wildlife trade.

WED is a part of the effort of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to create worldwide awareness and action for the environment. It was first celebrated in 1973 in the United States and since then has been hosted by different cities of the world. Today, it is widely celebrated in more than 100 countries. ###

To ensure greater transparency and accountability in the mining sector, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has imposed a new regulation on the processing and issuance of environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for new mining operations.

In a recently issued memorandum circular, the DENR said only the ECC application of an entity or corporation whose name appear on the government-issued Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) or the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) shall be processed by the agency starting May 14.

"No new application for an ECC shall be processed and issued in the name of any applicant unless the same applicant shall be the entity or corporation as reflected in an MPSA and/or FTAA," stated in the DENR Memorandum Circular No. 006, Series of 2016.

It was further stated that the new requirement "shall apply to all new applications for ECC for the operation of Sand and Gravel or Industrial Sand and Gravel duly approved by the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board (PMRB) and/or MGB (Mines and Geosciences Bureau) Regional Office, respectively."

According to DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, the new regulation aims to ensure the consistency in the implementation of the country's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) System and Republic Act No. 7942, or the Philippine Mining Act of 1995.

"It should be established that the ECC applicant is the same as that designated in the MPSA or FTAA," Paje pointed out.

The EIS System was designed to safeguard the country's environment and natural resources against growing industrialization and urbanization.

RA 7942, on the other hand, regulates mineral resources development with strict adherence to the principle of sustainable development so that the needs of the present generation will be met without sacrificing those of future generations.

Paje had enjoined all PMRBs and MGB regional offices to ensure strict compliance with the new directive.

"It is the responsibility of PMRBs and MGB regional offices to ensure that new ECC applications for sand and gravel quarry projects comply with this requirement," the DENR chief said.

He added: "Sand and gravel count among the most extracted and widely consumed natural resources which we have to regulate." ###

June will be a busy month for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as it leads the celebration of the Philippine Environment Month.

“We celebrate Environment Month this year with the renewed and strengthened conviction to care for the land we live on, the air we breathe, and the water which gives us life. More than any time in this planet’s history, it is now that we must put our acts together to combat increasing threats to our ecosystems,” said DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje.

With the theme, “Go Wild for Life, Combat Biodiversity Loss,” Paje said that the fight against illegal wildlife trade must continue, noting that the extinction of species is irreversible and losses are permanent.”

He added that biodiversity loss has affected the livelihood of many Filipinos especially those in the agricultural and fisheries sector and even causes losses in the economy due to natural calamities.

The month-long celebration begins with a three-day Young Eco-Ambassador’s Camp that will be held on UP National Engineering Center on June 1 – 3.

Sponsored by the Young EcoAmbassadors Pilipinas, the Department of Education, and DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the camp will bring together successful high school student applicants together with their advisers from all over Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) will host the Philippine Eagle Week celebration in collaboration with Enchanted Kingdom (EK) in Sta. Rosa, Laguna with the theme “Saving Eagles, Protecting Forests, Securing our Future” on June 4. A series of fun-filled activities will take place during the celebration, which includes the participation of the winners of the AGILA costume contest, and EK’s Circle of Artists wearing of eagle costumes while parading around the amusement park.

Philippine Eagle Week is observed annually from June 4 – 10.

The EMB will also hold a multi-media exhibit on combating biodiversity loss and beating climate change at Robinsons Galleria in Ortigas Center, Quezon City, from June 6 to 8.

The EMB’s Air Quality Management Division will conduct an orientation on ecosystem-based adaptation at its Air Quality Management Training Center (AQMTC) on June 6, and an emission inventory training-workshop for the EMB regional offices.

The EMB’s Environmental Education and Information Division (EEID) will bring together bloggers for the Environmental Blogger’s Forum to promote the hashtag #GreenEnvironmentGawingForever at the Cocoon Boutique in Quezon City on June 7.

A General Assembly and Consultation Workshop on the Upland National Implementation Action Plan on June 7 and a workshop on the draft Revised Chemical Control Order for Cyanide and its compounds will be held June 9 at the EMB AQMTC Conference Room.

To showcase an environment-friendly building, the Laguna Lake Development Authority will conduct a “Green Building Tour” of its office on June 8.

The annual Clean Air Forum, which is DENR’s sustaining effort to further improve air quality, and the activity on the Capacity Development of Micro and Small Medium Enterprises in compliance with the Environmental Permitting Requirements are scheduled on June 14 and 15 - 16 respectively, at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City.

The Capacity Development of Micro and Small Medium Enterprises is a two-day seminar that will be in partnership with EMB-AQMS and the Environmental Compliance Assistance Center, and is open to the public.

On June 16, the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center Amphitheater in Quezon City will feature the live mural painting by A.G. Saño and the youth artists, as the “Stop Illegal Wildlife Trade Campaign” will be held in General Santos City.

The EMB will also hold the 2nd Integrated National Solid Waste Management Summit on SM Megatrade Hall on June 21-24, and the Training on Greenhouse Gas Inventory and Management for Industries in Cebu City on June 23-24. An orientation on the Globally Harmonized System will be held on Davao City on June 24.

The Philippine Arbor Day, a nationwide tree planting activity, will be spearheaded by the Strategic Communication Initiatives Service of DENR at the Upper Marikina Watershed and the Ipo Watershed on June 25.

Activities that will be spearheaded by the EMB’s Climate Change Division will be training on Ecosystem-based Adaptation in Development Planning on June 27-29 for selected DENR employees.

The EMB will also hold an Environmental Eco-Tour at the Las Piñas Parañaque Critical Habitat on June 29, and a National Training-Workshop on Air Quality Monitoring Network on June 27-30.

Cleaning of adopted esteros, tree planting activities, and a bike parade will also be held nationwide during the month-long celebration. ###