Keynote Speech of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu at the 2nd Philippine Environment Summit, 20 February 2018, Waterfront Hotel, Cebu City

(Salutations)

In February 2016, over a thousand people flocked to the First Philippine Environment Summit, which we co-sponsored in Manila with the Green Convergence Philippines. On that occasion, then Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Ramon Paje delivered his State of the Environment Address, which was well received.

Today, I welcome everyone to the Second Philippine Environment Summit.  I commend the organizers of this noble undertaking for their resolve to hold this event.  Please accept my heartfelt thanks and appreciation.

The year 2017 was a year when we at the DENR were not content to merely meet targets: we exceeded them on many fronts. As early as October, we already surpassed targets in some priority programs.

Topping the list of our major accomplishments was our performance in solid waste management. Our target was to assist 233 local government units in theproper closure and rehabilitation of open and controlled dumpsites within the Manila Bay region and adjacent areas. We were able to assist not just 233 LGUs, but 321, or 138 percent of the target. This accomplishment is especially meaningful to me, because right after I took over the reins of the DENR from Secretary Gina Lopez last May 2017, I vowed that we will strictly implement the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Second in our list of accomplishments was our 135-percent output in the management and protection of protected areas and ecotourism development. We envisioned that the various Protected Area Management Boards or PAMBs would approve 736 resolutions in 2017.  The PAMBs produced far more resolutions: 997, or 261 more than the target of 736. In addition, the completion rates of protected areas managed and protected, blue or green brigades or volunteers engaged, and ecotourism facilities maintained and rehabilitated were 100, 108 and 103 percent, respectively.

In our flagship National Greening Program, or NGP, as of December 2017, the DENR had planted 1.86 million hectares from year 2011 to 2017 or 113% of the target of 1.63 million hectares.  The NGP has also generated about four million jobs from 2011-2017.

In our clean water program, the accomplishment rate in terms of the number of firms monitored for compliance with the Clean Water Act was 106 percent. In relation to targets, the number of new esteros and water bodies adopted for clean up was at 109 percent.  Thirty-two (32)Water Quality Management Areas nationwide were operationalized.  The DENR also formulated the 2016 General Effluent Guidelines to assist in the classification of waterbodies and determination of water quality. 

In geohazard assessment and mapping, the DENR was able to update the 1:1,000 scale geohazard maps of 21 LGUs, or one more than the target of 20 LGUs. The detailed sub-surface assessments of the 15 targeted LGUs have also been completed. We also performed well in the geospatial data infrastructure program: 100 percent in system analysis and 96 percent in program development.

For our forest protection program, we were able to hire 429 forest protection officers, or eight more than the target of 421.

In our coastal and marine ecosystems management program, we provided technical assistance to all of the targeted 85 LGUs. We were also able to assess and map 94,116 coastal habitats for potential livelihood opportunities, or 8,524 or almost 10 percent more than the target of 85,592.

On biodiversity conservation, 13 protected areas covering 894,282 hectares have been legislated and demarcated and 100 protected areas covering 3.5 million hectares have been proclaimed.

In our clean air program, we successfully operated, maintained and calibrated 98 out of the 101 sampling stations; monitored 12,508 of the 13,791 firms in the Caloocan-Malabon-Navotas-Valenzula (CAMANAVA) area and major centers on their compliance with the Clean Air Act of 1999; and installed 49 continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations across the country.

The foregoing accomplishments have raised the bar that we must hurdle in this newyear, 2018. But, with the citizenry’s support, I am confident that we will continue to exceed expectations.

I must emphasize the need for the people’s support. The DENR cannot be everywhere all of the time, particularly in environmentally critical areas. The 429 forest protection officers that we hired last year will clearly not be enough to cover every hectare of forest. This is why each protected area has its own protected area management board, so that resident stakeholders can provide monitoring and regulatory services round the clock.

In places that are not declared as protected areas, such as metropolitan or urbanized centers, we depend on the LGUs at all levels, down to the barangay level to be more vigilant against violators of environmental laws, rules, regulations and ordinances. We ask them to help us in the detection, apprehension and prosecution of these violators. But judging from the volume of plastic and other wastes that end up in our rivers, lakes and seas, we have not done enough. And so perhaps we must also consider enacting laws that will make manufacturers pay at least part of the cost of cleaning up the non-biodegradable packaging that they use.

Beyond the enforcement of environmental laws, we also need the direct and mass participation of the citizenry in accelerating reforestation, in coastal cleanups, in conserving energy, and in popularizing lifestyles that will enable us to reduce our carbon footprint and enhance our resilience.

Let me just digress a little bit to update you on the Boracay issue. True, over the years, due to the cumulative effect of run-away development, the influx of people beyond the island’s carrying capacity, and the poor implementation of environmental laws, particularly the Clean Water Act, and the illegal encroachment on easement areas and forestlands, Boracay’s original pristine condition has deteriorated. The President himself has called what was a tourism jewel a “cesspool.”  We had been given orders to clean up Boracay in 6 months. I am determined to vigorously implement the President’s order.  As I speak, our people from various regional offices of DENR had been deployed to Boracay to augment our Region 6 Office there. And another group from all regions this time, all over the country, including our DENR here in Cebu will be going there, this Thursday, numbering about more than 100 DENR personnel. They will conduct a thorough sweep of establishments in Boracay to inspect these establishments and   determine any illegal discharge of untreated wastewater into the sea, the encroachment into public/forestlands and wetlands, and illegal constructions within the easement areas. Let me cite some statistics for your better appreciation of the situation. These are initial findings of our Teams on the ground and, as we progress with the campaign, the figures are expected to rise.

If you ask me:

  1. 1.Total Number of Establishments in Boracay

:   2,600

  1. 2.Estimated no. ofdischarging waste-water

:      834

  1. 3.Establishments with Discharge Permits (DPs)

:      118

  1. 4.Establishments which failed to renew DPs

:        36

  1. 5.Notice of Violations issued

:        36

 

You will note, for the Clean Water Act alone, of 834 wastewater discharging establishments, only 118 are with permits and the majority or 716 do not have such permits and presumed to be discharging their wastewater illegally into the sea.

 

  1. 6.Establishments with ECCs

:  370 out of 2000

  1. 7.with Certificates of Non-Coverage (CNC)

 

:     248

  1. 8.Establishments without ECCs

:       54

  1. 9.Establishments with pending ECC applications

:         6

 

There is a need to verify on the ground which establishments are polluting the seas by a thorough inspection process. There will be about 12 teams totalling over 100 people which will be going there to uncover the violators. We expect the number of cases that will be brought before the Pollution Adjudication Board to increase. The PAB will decide the closure and imposition of penalties on these errant establishments.

I assure you, ladies and gentlemen, that we shall not relent in our efforts until we have turned around the condition of Boracay.

We will save Boracay.

On this note, we welcome the initiatives of Green Convergence Philippines and other pro-environment organizations, and we urge everyone to contribute their utmost toward the success of this 2nd Philippine Environmental Summit.

Maraming salamat po at mabuhay!  Daghang salamat!

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