Friday, October 22, 2010

Enhanced consciousness marks first 100 days of P-Noy in the environment sector

Enhanced environmental consciousness: this is how Environment and
Natural Resources Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje described the first 100
days of President Benigno S. Aquino’s accomplishment in the
environment sector.

“The high level of confidence of the Filipino people on President
Aquino has obviously created a ripple in the environment sector as not
only government agencies have coalesced with the DENR on its various
environmental protection programs but also local government units,
civil society and the private sector,” Paje said.

Paje said that although the first 100 days is too short to gauge the
success of a particular program, he stressed that initial results
would show that the department has achieved substantial gains in its
priority thrusts, in partnership with stakeholders.

Foremost of this, according to Paje, is in the area of clean water and
garbage, where a number of local government units (LGUs) and private
companies have partnered with the department in the cleaning up of
major waterways. He cited, as an example, the DENR’s agreement with
the local governments of Quezon City and Valenzuela City, and the
Manila North Tollways Corporation for the clean-up of the Tullahan
River under its newly-launched “Adopt-a-Estero” program.

Paje said that following the launch last month of the Tullahan River
clean up, a number of local companies have signified their interest to
also adopt ‘esteros,’ to include the SM Development Corporation, Lucio
Tan Group of Companies, Hapee Toothpaste, San Miguel Corporation,
Nestle Philippines, Zesto, and the Philippine Mining Safety for
Environment Association.

The imposition of community service as a penalty is enshrined in
Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,
but it is only now the department is adopting it as its battlecry in
the fight against polluters.

“We will now be imposing community service for violations of R.A.
9003, to complement the Anti-Littering Law being carried out by the
Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA),” Paje said.

Paje also intimated that Social Welfare and Development Secretary
Dinky Soliman already approved the DENR’s proposal to include
community service as additional criteria in its “Conditional Cash
Transfer” program.

As an offshoot to several studies that plastics comprise the bulk of
the waste produced in Metro Manila and the whole world, the DENR,
together with the Earth Day Network Philippines, has partnered with
major malls and establishments like Shoe Mart, Isetann and the
Philippine Amalgamated Supermarkets Association and the Philippine
Retailers Association, to name a few, in the drive promoting the use
recyclable bags instead of plastic bags. “We have also initiated talks
with the Philippine Plastics Industry Association for them to come up
with a program to retrieve, collect and recycle plastics bags as part
of their so-called extended manufacture responsibility.”

The campaign to clean the air also tops the thrust of the Aquino
administration with the department targeting to reduce the total
suspended particulates in Metro Manila and other urban centers by 30
percent by end of 2011.

Towards this end, the DENR has partnered with concerned agencies like
the Land Transportation Office, Department of Trade and Industry, and
the Department of Interior and Local Government to curb vehicle
emission in Metro Manila. Based on study, 80% of air pollution load,
particularly in Metro Manila, come from mobile sources while 20% come
from stationery sources.

On the issue of “no-show” emission test certification, the DENR chief
has vowed to undertake a more drastic rule of not only going after
erring private emission testing centers and have these permanently
closed, but will also hold accountable vehicle owners who connive to
the malpractice. In addition, Paje said the department has also
proposed to the LTO the installation of close circuit television
(CCTV) cameras to easily monitor testing centers at real time.

The DENR has also initiated discussions with the Asian Development
Bank for a program that will provide affordable credit for the
conversion of existing tricycle engines to electric engines. The
saving on fuel, according to Paje, will be used to pay for the

Other major reforms that the department has instituted in the forestry
sector were the setting up of around 15,000 hectares of degraded
forestlands for reforestation, agroforestry and production of
high-value crops under the National Convergence Initiative with the
Department of Agriculture and of Agrarian Reform, the issuance of DENR
Memorandum Order No. 9 effecting a stop in the acceptance and
processing of applications for Integrated Forest Management Agreement
(IFMA) with harvesting component in the natural forest, and stricter
rules to cancel non-performing tenurial holders.

To deny illegal loggers of their loot, the DENR has made it as a
policy to donate confiscated logs to the Department of Education,
instead of bidding. So far, a total of 1,007,183 board feet of
confiscated logs are now ready for donation to DepEd.

As part of the government’s climate change mitigation and adaptation
strategy, the DENR, through its Mines and Geosciences Bureau, has
already completed the geohazard assessment and mapping of the entire
country with a scale of 1:50,000. “We are now distributing geohazard
maps to all LGUs to enable them to incorporate all these in their
respective disaster preparedness action plans,” Paje said.


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