Wake Up, Philippines!

DENR: Ponder on agony we cause to environment

Posted in Church, DENR, Environment, Social Issues/Concerns by Erineus on April 3, 2010

By Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 13:34:00 03/31/2010

MANILA, Philippines—Do penance for the environment on Holy Week, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said Tuesday.

In a statement, Environment Secretary Horacio Ramos said the country’s estimated 81 million Catholics should observe a “green” Holy Week and “ponder on the agony of the country’s environment as the nation grapples with the effects of El Niño and the aftermath of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.”

Ramos said Catholics are in a “unique position to offer thoughtful solutions to the natural resource and environmental problems and issues in the world today and embarking on simple acts of everyday sacrifices, especially this Holy Week.”

“Because Holy Week holds a central place in the life of majority of Filipinos, these calamities become auspicious in that we could reflect on the agony of our water bodies, skies and forests that are facing almost certain demise, to the greater agony of poor Filipinos, unless the collective will is forged to save and resurrect our physical home in this corner of Planet Earth,” Ramos said.

Things we can do

“Doables” on the environment chief’s lists include: Collection and segregation of waste, especially by park- and beach-goers; prevention of grass and forest fires through monitoring of campfires and proper disposal of cigarette butts; participation in environmental cleanup activities, be it on a beach front, roadside, estero, or public park; religious application of water and energy-saving tips at home, in the office or on vacation; conscientious use and maintenance of motor vehicles; respect for wildlife and their habitats; vigilance against violators of environmental laws by reporting smoke-belching vehicles, polluting firms and illegal logging activities; and for candidates running in the May elections, to spare trees from their campaign materials.

Ramos said an ailing environment “ails the plight of the poor even more. Those who are better off in life [should] take to heart the duties of Christian stewardship over the nation’s environment and natural resources.”

The World Bank reported that total losses due to the two typhoons that struck last year amounted to P50.3 billion, affecting mostly informal or labor workers with some 480,000 of them added to the country’s poverty rolls.

The waste watchdog EcoWaste Coalition urged Holy Week travelers to “think outside the bottle” and give up bottled water on their trips.

Water bottle blues

“We expect increased consumer demand for bottled beverages like water as people hit the road or frolic on the beach under the broiling April sun,” said Chin Chin Gutierrez of Alaga Lahat and EcoWaste Coalition.

“The ever increasing production and consumption of bottled water bring myriad environmental and health problems that consumers are hardly informed about, including the release of greenhouse gases from the whole life cycle of bottled water, the potential leaching of chemicals from plastic bottles, microbial contamination due to poor regulation, and marine litter,” she said.

Instead of single-use water bottles, the group urged travelers to use reusable water jugs, stainless steel, or lined aluminum containers filled with clean tap water or, if necessary, with boiled, filtered, or purified water to cut on greenhouse gases and trash.

According to Ocean Conservancy’s “Marine Debris Index” released in 2008, the Philippines registered the highest number of littered beverage plastic bottles in Southeast Asia.

“To turn the tide against bottled water, Filipino consumers further need to assert their right to drink healthy and safe water straight from the tap and insist that bottled water is no sustainable solution to our thirst for water,” EcoWaste Coalition said.


DENR stands by report on coal pollution

Posted in DENR, Environment by Erineus on April 24, 2009

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:44:00 04/23/2009

Filed Under: Environmental Issues, Pollution, Mining and quarrying

ILOILO CITY – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Western Visayas is standing by its report alleging that the Semirara Mining Corp. (SMC) violated environmental laws by polluting the waters and marine resources of Semirara Island.

Bienvenido Lipayon, regional director of the DENR Environment Management Bureau (EMB), defended his recommendation to the DENR’s Pollution and Adjudication Board (PAB) to file a pollution case against the company and issue a cease-and-desist order (CDO) on its coal washing plant.

The SMC has threatened to file criminal and administrative charges against Lipayon for allegedly filing false reports against the company.

In a statement issued by its lawyer Romulo San Juan, the SMC accused Lipayon of being hostile to the company because it opposed his request to replace the chairman of a multiparty committee that oversees an environment fund put up by the SMC.

“I’m not aware that they will be filing a case against me. But my report is not erroneous or false,” Lipayon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in a telephone interview on Saturday.

He said the report was based on the complaint filed by residents of Barangay Alegria, one of the three villages of the island, and the results of meetings of the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team (MMT).

The MMT, composed of representatives of the DENR, SMC, residents and local government units, ensures that the operations comply with conditions of the environmental certificate of compliance (ECC) issued by the DENR for the company to operate.

In his recommendation, Lipayon noted that there was “prima facie evidence” against the company on the “disposal of coal material and tailings into the Suja Creek and to the sea.”

The EMB also recommended the issuance of a P45,000 fine against the company for violating three conditions of its ECC.

SMC has denied that its operations and its coal washing plant have caused the siltation. It said typhoons in recent years have caused the run-off from old coal stockpiles.

Ricardo Calderon, DENR Western Visayas regional executive director, said it would be up to the PAB to rule on the merits of the allegation against SMC.

“[Lipayon] is just doing his job. And it’s normal for us working in government to be subjects of complaints,” Calderon told the Inquirer on Monday.

Calderon said due process was observed in the complaint filed by the residents and the issuance of a notice of violation against the SMC.

A group of environmentalists and scientists who conducted an inspection on April 16-17 also confirmed the coal siltation.


RP has second-dirtiest seas, report says

Posted in DENR, Environment by Erineus on March 24, 2009

March 15, 2009 08:23:00
Alcuin Papa
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines ranks second in the world for most trash recovered from its oceans, an international conservation group has revealed.

The US-based Ocean Conservancy reported that 1,355,236 items of trash were recovered from the country’s shorelines, ocean surface and underwater during the International Coastal Cleanup conducted by the group in September 2008, which involved nearly 400,000 volunteers around the world.

The results of the cleanup were presented in a report by the group titled “A Rising Tide of Ocean Debris” was released on March 10 and available on the group’s website.

Topping the list of trash items were plastic bags (679,957 pieces), paper bags (253,013) and food wrappers (103,226). Also recovered were 38,394 pieces of clothing and shoes, 55,814 tobacco-related items including cigarette butts (34,154), lighters and wrappers, and 11,077 diapers.

The United States topped the list of countries with the most trash recovered, with 3,945,855 items. In third place was Costa Rica with 1,017,621 items.

Ocean Conservancy said it collected 11.4 million pieces of trash from 6,485 sites in 104 countries, including the Philippines.

“We are all connected to the ocean. The disheartening amount of trash afloat in the sea, littering beaches and piling up on the sea floor affects the earth’s life support system, the ocean and all the living things in it,” the report said.

“Marine debris is more than a blemish on nature, it is a potential threat to our food supply, to tourism and economic activity, to marine wildlife and ecosystems, and to our personal health. It even relates to the impacts of climate change,” it added.

Because of the study, local waste and pollution watchdog EcoWaste Coalition called on the public to help restore the health of Philippine waters.

On World Consumer Rights Day on Sunday (March 15), the coalition called for more awareness, responsibility and action to save the oceans and waterways, particularly from plastic garbage.

“We urge local and national authorities to fully enforce Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, to stop the dumping of trash in the canals and esteros that eventually find their way into the marine ecosystem,” said Manny Calonzo, EcoWaste Coalition president.

To prevent garbage from entering the marine environment, the coalition urged consumers to adopt basic practices in ecological waste management, including waste prevention, reduction, separation at source, recycling reuse and composting.

In 2006, the group together with Greenpeace conducted a joint discards survey of Manila Bay which showed that 76 percent of the garbage in the bay was made of plastic and 51 percent was plastic bags, Calonzo said.

The coalition also urged the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and National Solid Waste Management Commission to do something about the trash in the oceans.


Arroyo to sign EO on waste segregation

Posted in DENR, Environment, Laws, Legislation, LGUs by Erineus on March 24, 2009

By Nikko Dizon
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:57:00 03/15/2009

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is drafting an executive order to be signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo this week that will compel the public to segregate their garbage, according to the agency’s press statement.

The executive order “will hasten the implementation” of Republic Act (RA) 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, said the DENR statement released over the weekend.

“To support and strengthen RA 9003, the DENR is preparing an EO directing households to segregate their garbage and local government units (LGUs) to implement separate garbage collections for biodegradable and non-biodegradable wastes,” DENR Secretary Lito Atienza said.

The law stipulates garbage segregation but it is hardly followed.

“Filipinos must be reminded of their responsibilities on waste disposal and the system of separate collection will definitely reduce the volume of garbage that accumulate daily,” Atienza said.

“We must continuously guide everybody on the proper disposal of garbage as we strictly monitor and enforce compliance to RA 9003, especially now that the effects of global warming and climate change are being experienced all over the world,” Atienza said.


New rat species found

Posted in Conservation, DENR, Discovery, Environment, Faura/Fauna, News Feature by Erineus on February 19, 2009
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MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Lito Atienza yesterday called for greater biodiversity conservation in the wake of the discovery of a new species of small rodent found only on Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental by the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and the Chicago-based Field Museum of Natural History.

Mt. Hamiguitan is home to a forest of pygmy trees.

The Hamiguitan batomys or Hamiguitan hairy-tailed rat is a yellow-brown animal with a long furry tail and a weight of 175 grams, discovers said. It is related to several other species known in Central Mindanao, Dinagat Island and Luzon, and lives only from an elevation of 950 meters up to the peak, in dwarf mossy forests of areas less than 10 square kilometers.

“We have long taken great pride in our wealth of flora and fauna and this new discovery reinforces our efforts to make the protection of these unique and endemic species found in the country our top priority,” Atienza said.

He said there is a very high chance of more discoveries of new species in the country, but some of these might already be threatened before they are even discovered. He urged everyone to do their share in protecting the country’s forests, home to the wildlife.

Atienza said the Philippines has been declared by global scientists as one of only a few mega diverse countries in the world.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said the new species was found in May 2006 during an expedition that sought to learn more about the region, which is also home to the globally endangered Philippine Eagle, the country’s national bird.

Quoting expedition team leader and lead author Danilo Balete, the DENR said that the “Hamiguitan batomys is the first mammal to be described from Eastern Mindanao, and is the first mammal that is thought to live only in that area. Most mammals unique to Mindanao were described from Mt. Apo or Mt. Kitanglad. This points to eastern Mindanao, especially Mt. Hamiguitan, as a biologically unique part of the Philippines.”

PEF executive director Dennis Salvador said Mt. Hamiguitan and the rest of Eastern Mindanao are poorly known biologically but the mountain is known as a mining and logging hot spot.

The DENR said that at Mt. Hamiguitan, six mining agreements cover more than 17,000 hectares of forest, more than half of the mountain’s forest cover.

Meanwhile, DENR’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau director Dr. Mundita Lim said Mt. Hamiguitan “fully deserves” to be among the global heritage sites and endorsed its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Lawrence Heaney, Curator of Mammals at the Field Museum, and a co-author of the batomys description, believed that additional species currently unknown to anyone except local residents are likely to live in eastern Mindanao due to its “unusual geological history.”

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DENR Going After Crematoria & Cemeteries

Posted in Crematoria/Cemeteries, DENR, Environment by Erineus on February 1, 2009

Even the dead have to follow environmental standards.

Expressing concern about the potential pollution and danger posed by waste from facilities catering to the dead, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now requiring crematoria, cemeteries and funeral parlors to secure an   environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the government.

“Crematoria involve the burning process. Funeral parlors make use of formaldehyde. So because of the hazardousness of wastes coming from these establishments, we have amended the AO to upgrade the classification of these business establishments and require an environmental impact statement,” Atienza pointed out.  Full Story