Tuesday, January 4, 2011

DENR’s yearender marks path to ‘tuwid na daan’

The 2010 end-of-year report of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) casts an all important picture of how the “tuwid na daan” will be played out in Philippine environmentalism in the next five years: while showing on the one hand the accomplishments gained during the first semester of the Aquino dispensation (July to December 2010) in six areas, these gains were made against the backdrop of “embarking on a social contract that will effectively address persistent issues in the environment and natural resources sector” that yields systemic changes.

“While there is a groundswell of goodwill that has been generated because of these gains, all these should be viewed as a prelude for the fundamental reforms that the DENR will have to undergo in the coming years to make itself an integral part of President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd’s State of the Nation (SONA) commitment,” DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje said.

These six areas: 1) Eliminate opportunities for graft and corruption, 2) Clean Air, 3) Clean Water, 4) Ensure compliance with environmental regulations, 5) Optimize benefits from land resources, and 6) Optimize benefits from mining.

While he concedes that the trends illustrated in the report are by no means “far reaching,” Paje stressed that this is first and foremost a yardstick instrument. "This document is a way of tracking things, a yearly snapshot providing us critical guide to enable us to draw insights into how far or how little we at the DENR have made in enriching that social contract this administration has embarked on to achieve good governance."

The report also contains a chapter on DENR plans for 2011 to surpass accomplishments in all areas at least cost to the government through partnerships with the private sector and local government units (LGUs).

Below are some of the most salient items cited in the DENR year-end report:

1. The DENR Citizens Charter is now being implemented. The Charter provides the range of specific services in the different sector offices to guide the people with step-by-step procedures on how to avail of these services. The Charter also shows the standards on quality and timeliness to be expected from the Department in rendering these services.

A Land Records Administration and Management System (LAMS) was installed and operationalized in four DENR regional offices (Regions 1, 7, 8 and 10) to ensure the integrity of processing land applications and access to land information, such as cadastral maps, isolated survey plans, public land applications, patents and titles.

DENR checkpoints were reduced to the most strategic locations. As of October 2010, checkpoints have been reduced to 117, from the original 274 checkpoints.

Confiscated forest products were donated to the Department of Education (DepEd), instead of bidding to deny the loot from illegal loggers. A total of 786,944.28 board feet of confiscated logs and lumber have been formally turned over. These are covered by deeds of donation signed and executed by and between our Regional Executive Directors of the DENR and the Regional Directors of the DepEd.

To strengthen prosecution of wildlife cases, Memorandum Circular No. 2010-17 was issued adopting the “Wildlife Law Enforcement Manual of Operations” to aid wildlife law enforcers win cases against violators of the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001 (Republic Act 9147) and other relevant wildlife laws, rules and regulations.

For its internal operations, some of the most salient are the installation of Closed Circuit Televisions (CCTVs) in vital different offices and areas inside and around the DENR grounds. To date, 12 CCTVs have been installed and operationalized in the Central Office and in four Regional Offices, including the public posting of notifications for bidding and applications for permits in the DENR website.

The National Water Resources Board (NWRB), with DENR secretary as chairman, has signed an agreement with the United Coconut Planters Bank for the payment of water permits through the bank.

To give greater transparency on DENR’s transactions, the DENR Procurement Customized Manual to standardize the process in the procurement of goods and services was applied. The Procurement Manual is consistent with the requirements of RA 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

2. Additional four air quality monitoring stations were installed located at EDSA (MRT and National Printing Office), Monumento and MMDA office, to monitor Particulate Matter 10 (PM 10). PM 10 is the microscopic dust particles in the air that affects the lungs. Discussions with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) were initiated for a program that will provide affordable credit for the conversion of existing tricycle engines to electric engines. The savings in fuel will be used to pay for the amortization. Revenues generated from carbon emission that will be prevented will be used to repay part of the loan to the ADB through the carbon trading system.

The standards for motor vehicle emissions were increased with the issuance of Department Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2010-23 on 07 September 2010, entitled “Revised Emission Standards for Motor Vehicles Equipped with Compression-Ignition and Spark-ignition Engines.

A proposal has been made to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) for the issuance of a Joint DENR-DOTC and DTI Order providing for guidelines on stiffer penalties for non-appearance in emission testing for motor vehicles. The guidelines include joint liability of Private Emission Testing Centers (PETCs) and vehicle owners and permanent closure of erring PETCs.

3. The water bodies in major urban centers are unfit for human activities. All waterways in Metro Manila are polluted based on the amount of oxygen in the water, especially “esteros” which are clogged with garbage. In view of this, massive clean-up of esteros in Metro Manila was initiated. A coordinated approach on the clean-up of esteros was developed with MMDA, DPWH, Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and LGUs.

A mandatory community service for polluters to clean esteros was also developed. In line with this, a Joint Memorandum Circular on mandatory community service for polluters was submitted to DILG and a Department Administrative Order on the operationalization of the Imposition of Community Service as penalty to polluters was prepared.

A proposal to DSWD on the inclusion of estero clean-up as one of the requirements for its Conditional Cash Transfer program to the informal settlers along the esteros was already submitted.

A public-private partnership on the clean-up of “esteros” was implemented through the “Adopt-An-Estero Program”. The guidelines of the Program were issued to all DENR Regional Offices. So far, six companies have already signified interest to adopt an “estero”, namely: Shoe Mart Development Corporation (SMDC), Hapee Toothpaste, Petron, Lamoiyan Corporation, Nestle Philippines, and the GMA Network. The MOAs for signing are now under process.

Further, the clean-up of one of the dirtiest river systems in the world, the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system was vigorously pursued. The 10-Year Action Plan for its rehabilitation was approved with concerned LGUs and national agencies.

4. To ensure compliance with environmental regulations, the Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB) pursued the filing of case against MWSS, Manila Water and Maynilad for failure to construct the appropriate sewerage and waste treatment facilities for Metro Manila, within five years as provided in the Clean Water Act. The case is pending with the Court of Appeals. The accumulated penalties imposed by the PAB in May 07, 2009 of P200,000 per day now amount to P114,600,000 as of 30 November 2010. Recently, pollution fines were imposed on First Philippine Industrial Corporation (FPIC) amounting to P24.2 M.

Final Notices of Violation (NOV) were issued to 183 LGUs nationwide for non-compliance to the provisions of Republic Act 9003, or the “Ecological Solid Waste Management Act”, for the continued use of open dump sites.

A Task Force on Environmental Law Enforcement (ELETF) was strengthened with the implementation of an integrated approach in the enforcement of environmental laws from investigation to arrest, seizure and confiscation, to prosecution, in coordination with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and LGUs.

Department Memorandum Order No. 09 was issued to stop the acceptance and processing of applications for Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) with harvesting in the natural forest. Stricter rules were imposed to cancel non-performing tenure holders.

5. The Land Administration Reform Bill, which will put all land titling activities under a single agency, was submitted to the Legislative Executive Development Action Council (LEDAC) and is due for presentation to the President.
During the 6-month period, 42,257 free patents for agricultural lands covering 36,137 hectares were distributed, benefitting the same number of families.

To spur growth and development in Mindanao, a two-year project entitled “Topographic Mapping for Peace and Development in Mindanao” was launched aimed at providing :50,000 topographic base maps of Mindanao to enhance the capability of LGUs in the utilization of digital map data to be generated for various GIS applications. 162 sites were identified covering 21,625 hectares of untenured areas covering all provinces for reforestation, agro-forestry and the production of high-value agricultural crops under the National Convergence Initiative (NCI) with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR).

Moreover, about 60,781 hectares were identified as potential areas for public-private investment using the Investment Portfolio Approach.

To provide livelihood and to increase the country’s forest cover, a total of 17,758 families benefited from planting 17,758 hectares covering the four components of reforestation, agroforestry, mangrove development and enrichment planting under the “Upland Development Program.

On delineating the final forest lines, bills were drafted for the legislation of the permanent forest line of the first 10 provinces, out of the targeted 17 provinces, with completed survey. Possible sponsors for the bills are being sought. Also, filing of the Sustainable Forest Ecosystem Management (SFM) Bill which is an enhanced version of the Sustainable Forest Management (SFM)

To address climate change impact on the Philippines, “The Philippine Strategy on Climate Change Adaptation (PSCCA) 2010-2022” was completed and launched.

Further, collaboration with the civil society was expanded in partnership with the Muslim Association for Climate Change Action (MACCA) composed of different Muslim groups from Mindanao, Palawan and Metro Manila. They were assisted in coming up with a short-term plan to address the impact of global warming and climate change in Muslim Mindanao.

6. The promotion of mining investments and streamlining of the permitting process has led to investment inflows reaching US$560 million since July 2010 from the priority development and exploration projects. More mineral development projects are in the pipeline and investments are expected to reach US$17.35 billion by 2016.

The review of current mining tenement permitting system for the possible shift from the “first come, first serve” system of accepting mining applications to a “public bidding” system, in the case of areas of denied mining applications, was initiated for the purpose of obtaining share from the use of mineral wealth.

The Department implemented the cleansing process for pending mining applications and non-performing mining contracts involving 347 mining applications resulting in the 279 denials and endorsement for approval of 68 mining applications. The denial of the pending applications has opened up areas for more serious investors.

The DENR has continued to promote the Philippines as an attractive area to invest for minerals development with the holding of the Mining Philippines 2010, Forum of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries and the China-ASEAN Business Summit.

The geohazard assessment mapping of 56 municipalities/cities nationwide was completed to identify areas prone to floods, landslides and other geohazards. This completes the geohazard assessment and mapping of the entire country with a scale of 1:50,000.

Geohazard maps and advisories were re-issued to LGUs providing the list of critical areas that are likely to be seriously affected by natural calamities. Information and geohazard maps were provided to agencies involved in disaster risk reduction and management such as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and to all Members of the House of Representatives and Senate of the Philippines and other stakeholders.

For transparency and public access, posting of around 498 geohazards map or around 50% of the total maps nationwide to the website of the Mines and Geo-Science Bureau (MGB) was done to make geohazards information more accessible to public users.


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