Friday, August 31, 2018

Environment groups blast gov’t on mining ‘turnaround’

by: - Correspondent / @melvingasconINQ
/ 09:10 PM August 31, 2018
Environment groups on Friday blasted the plan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to issue more mineral reservations in the country as a “reversal” of Duterte government’s supposed anti-mining policy.

In separate statements, the Center for Energy, Environment and Development and the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment scored the DENR for its failure to live up to its mandate of safeguarding country’s natural resources.

“If this (proposal) pushed through and gets affirmed by the President, this will then be a clear signal of the blatant reversal of anti-mining pronouncements of the President during his Presidential campaign and his past (State of the Nation Addresses),” said CEED Gerry Arances, executive director.
The DENR, in a news release on Thursday, announced it was set to declare more mineral reservation areas throughout the country “to help provide equitable access to mineral resources and generate additional nontax revenues for the government.”

The announcement came on the heels of the 2017 Commission on Audit report, which questioned the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s failure to collect some P2.7 billion in royalties from existing mining operations.

The government’s economic managers also blamed the lackluster performance in the mining and quarrying industry for the “slow” growth of the economy, dropping to 6 percent in the second quarter.

Lawyer Analiza Rebuelta Teh, DENR undersecretary for mining concerns, said the declaration of mineral reservations shall allow government to collect royalties—something it cannot do with the present mining operations.

But the DENR must approach its newest tack with caution, Arances said, as the government’s control and management of declared mineral reservations remain “plagued by various issues”.

“It has been clear in many studies that no amount of increase in share and royalties from mining can outweigh the devastating impacts to watersheds, forest cover, climate resiliency and many others,” he said.

For Kalikasan PNE, the planned expansion of mineral reservation areas is “unsurprising”, as the Duterte administration has been known for “successive reversals” amid the President’s “tough-talk” on mining policies.

Leon Dulce, Kalikasan national coordinator, cited the impending reversal of the closure and suspension orders for 24 of the 28 mines sanctioned by former Environment Sec. Regiina Paz Lopez, and the recent lifting the two-year mining exploration ban.

He dismissed the newest DENR move as one for fiscal equity, but a “clear attempt to further wholesale” mineralized lands in the country.

Opening up more lands to mineral reservations is part of the “more business as usual” scenario which the Duterte government is pursuing, he said.

“The fact that this peacocking to foreign mining investors when outstanding problems in environmental and social regulations remain unaddressed runs contrary to the promise of cracking down on destructive mines,” Dulce said.   /kga

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Firm plans to save Pasig River through blockchain tech

Entrepreneur and environmentalist Mariano Jose Diaz Villafuerte IV, chief executive officer of CypherOdin Inc. and cryptocurrency BOTcoin, said blockchain technology can solve the problem and clean the 27-kilometer river.
Miguel De Guzman/File
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - August 13, 2018 - 12:00am 
MANILA, Philippines — A cryptocurrency company is trying to convince the Pasig River Rehabilitation Council and other attached agencies to rehabilitate Pasig River using blockchain technology.

Entrepreneur and environmentalist Mariano Jose Diaz Villafuerte IV, chief executive officer of CypherOdin Inc. and cryptocurrency BOTcoin, said blockchain technology can solve the problem and clean the 27-kilometer river.

“We first came up with the idea of showcasing how blockchain technology can clean up the environment, using Boracay as an example. However, the government shut the island down in April, so we looked at (Pasig) instead as the next most important body of water in the country,” Villafuerte said.

He said his company plans to install internet of things (IoT) devices in the river to monitor water quality or tide levels and other relevant data to track and monitor their progress in real time.

This will enable them to generate and analyze the data produced, which will serve to create the impact they are looking for toward solving the plastic and garbage problem that silts the river. 

Villafuerte said CypherOdin would be using drones to map the plastic using lidar detection system on a microscopic level.

“We will collect all the data we gather from these IoT and process them so we will have comprehensive information on where the plastics and garbage are coming from, how they are moving, among others. This would allow us to analyze and come up with recommendations on how to best to clean up the river,” he added.

Villafuerte said they also plan to launch a massive information drive, particularly with communities along the riverbanks and near the river, about the importance of proper garbage disposal and environment protection.

The communities, he said, would be given incentives with BOTcoin cryptocurrency for a certain amount of garbage they collect from the river and for not throwing plastics into it. 

“This would encourage the community also to respect the river because they will be earning something from it,” he said. – Rey Galupo

Saturday, August 4, 2018

DENR widens clean water scope

By Kuhlin Ceslie Gacula-

Two river systems in Metro Manila and one in Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) were declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as water quality management areas (WQMA) recently.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy A. Cimatu signed three separate administrative orders designating the Malabon-Tullahan-Tinajeros and the Las Piñas-Parañaque river systems in the National Capital Region and the Iyam-Dumacaa river system in Region 4A (Calabarzon) as WQMA.

These new WQMA bring to 37 the total number of water bodies nationwide under stringent policies for protection from pollution.

The administrative orders aim to protect and improve the water quality of the three river systems—which are important sources of livelihood to local residents—pursuant to Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.

“Their designation as WQMA will ensure clean water in these rivers for present and future generations. Water is vital to irrigation, livelihood and water supply,” Cimatu said.

According to Cimatu, designating WQMA will enable concerned officials both in the national and local levels to take focused interventions on specific water quality issues relevant to a particular locality.

“The WQMA is a significant tool in enforcing the Clean Water Act. It aims for the improvement of water quality to meet the guidelines under which they have been classified or to improve their classification so that it meets its potential use,” Cimatu said.
Under the RA 9275, the DENR in coordination with the National Water Resources Board is mandated to designate certain areas as WQMA using appropriate physiographic units such as watershed, river basins, or water resources regions to effectively enforce its provisions and improve the water quality of water bodies.

The law seeks to provide a decentralized management system for water quality protection and the improvement of rivers.

Likewise, the DENR is tasked to create a governing board for each WQMA, which is chaired by a regional director of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). Its members include the mayor and governor of the concerned local government unit and representatives of relevant national government agencies, duly registered non-government organizations and business and water utility sectors.

Under the WQMA, the DENR and stakeholders address the water quality problems, sources of pollution and the beneficial use of the receiving water body. They also determine what control measures to institute to effectively achieve water quality objectives or improvements.
There are now 19 WQMA in Luzon, eight in Visayas and 10 in Mindanao.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

500 trees must go to widen Taguig road

DENR approves removal of trees dotting stretch covered by DPWH project in Fort Bonifacio
By: Dexter Cabalza - Reporter / @dexcabalzaINQ
Philippine Daily Inquirer / 06:20 AM July 20, 2018

“ROAD KILL” Only 62 of the hundreds of trees along Lawton Avenue are expected to be earth-balled and transplanted.—LYN RILLON

Its green cover shrinking each year, Metro Manila will again be losing trees en masse for the sake of urban convenience.

Around 500 sidewalk trees are being removed to give way to a road-widening project in Taguig City’s commercial district, with the approval of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR).

A permit approved on June 6 by DENR-National Capital Region Director Jacqueline Cancan allowed the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to cut 425 trees and earth-ball 62 more along Bayani Road and Sales Interchange in Fort Bonifacio.

The BCDA was in turn ordered to plant 21,250 seedlings of hardened indigenous trees as replacement.

The order did not specify where the new trees are to be planted, but it also required the agency to maintain and protect the transplanted trees for at least one year.

Replacement seedlings 

BCDA shall also replace each transplanted tree that will not survive after six months with 100 seedlings of indigenous tree species, in compliance with DENR Memorandum Order No. 2012-02.

DENR-NCR’s Conservation and Development Division confirmed on Wednesday that the replacement seedlings were ready as early as three weeks ago.

The trees are being removed to give way to Phase 2 of the widening of Lawton Avenue (which connects Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air Base), project under the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).

A Tarlac-based construction company, Northern Builders, got the P407-million contract to do the electrical and road works component of the project, including the removal of trees.

According to DPWH, the widening project is expected to be completed next year and will reduce by 40 percent the travel time between Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

It is also expected to decongest major arteries such as Edsa, Osmeña Boulevard and C-5 Road.

It also complements the BGC-Ortigas Center Link Road project which will improve access to and from the cities of Taguig, Pasig, Makati and Mandaluyong.

Concerned citizen

But such promises of smoother travel could not appease a concerned citizen who recently posted photos of the freshly cut or pruned trees online.

“Some of these big, precious trees are already decades old. Instead of cutting them down, we should dig them up and move them, because that is the right way to do it,” he said, noting that the species being cut included hardwoods such as such as narra, molave, mahogany and gmelina.

Some of the mahogany trees set to be cut down are already as tall as 15 meters and with trunks that are about 50 centimeters in diameter. It takes about 25 years for a mahogany tree to reach that mature height.

Based on the DENR permit, only 62 trees—the youngest and smallest of the lot—will be transplanted.

“Trees need not to be cut down to give way to development,” said the concerned citizen, a regular commuter on Lawton Avenue. “The wrong things we are doing to Mother Nature will come back to us in the form of floods, pollution and stronger typhoons. When will we Filipinos learn?”—With a report from ROSELIE MARI VILLAFLOR

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

DENR stops tree-cutting in Bago City

Philippine Daily Inquirer / 06:36 AM July 11, 2018
TRIMMED The environment department says people responsible for trimming and cutting trees along Abuanan Road in Bago City, Negros Occidental province, will face charges. THELMA WATANABE/CONTRIBUTOR

BACOLOD CITY — The cutting of trees on Abuanan Road in Bago City has been stopped and charges will be filed against those responsible for pruning them even before getting a permit from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), a community environment and natural resources officer said on Tuesday.

Joan Nathaniel Gerangaya said he had ordered the recovery of tree parts and was completing documentation so an administrative hearing could be held before the filing of charges in court.

No permit

Cutting of trees without permit violates the forestry code, he said.

A Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) contractor reportedly pruned the trees in preparation for their removal to allow the widening of Abuanan Road to four lanes to connect it with the Bacolod economic highway.

An application for clearance to cut 271 trees on Abuanan Road had been filed but the DENR regional office had yet to approve it, said Freddie Bata-anon, head of the licensing, patents and bids section of the city environment and natural resources office (Cenro) in Bago.

The Cenro on Saturday ordered the DPWH to stop pruning and cutting the trees.

Friendship symbol

When permission to cut is granted, Cenro representatives need to be present to ensure it is properly done and an inventory can be made, Gerangaya said. The cut trees are then donated to the Department of Education for use in schools, he said.

Of the 271 trees to be cut, more than 100 acacia trees were planted 31 years ago by volunteers of the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement as a symbol of friendship between the Japanese and Filipinos.

An online signature campaign was launched to ask the DENR not to allow the DPWH to cut the 271 trees. On Tuesday, 3,021 had signed the petition. Carla Gomez

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lopez orders mining audit

By Louise Maureen Simeon (The Philippine Star) | Updated July 12, 2016 - 12:00am

Newly-installed Environment Secretary Gina Lopez yesterday issued her first memorandum order which covers the extensive audit of all mines as well as the moratorium on new mining projects.

MANILA, Philippines - Newly-installed Environment Secretary Gina Lopez yesterday issued her first memorandum order which covers the extensive audit of all mines as well as the moratorium on new mining projects.

Based on memorandum 2016-01, all operating and suspended mines will be subject to an audit to determine the adequacy and efficiency of the environmental protection measures, identify gaps in protection measures and determine appropriate penalties in case of violations.

The moratorium, on the other hand, shall cover the acceptance, processing and approval of applications and projects for all metallic and non-metallic minerals.

Mining firms were given one month to comply with the order. Failure to do so will result in the suspension of operations.

The new administration remains firm in their stand to suspend mining firms that fail to secure international certification on safety standards in a bid to put an end to irresponsible mining in the Philippines.

The audit will be undertaken in accordance with the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and Department Administrative Order 2015-07 on securing the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001 certification.

The deadline for securing the ISO certification was originally set last April. Failure to secure or maintain the ISO 14001 certification will lead to suspension of the environmental compliance certificate and non-issuance of ore transport permit.

DAO 2015-07 “institutionalizes an environmental management system that ensures the adherence of local mining operations to international standards, particularly the ISO 14001 certification, as a measure of responsible mining in the country.

“ISO 14001 certification ensures that appropriate measures are put in place to achieve minimal negative impacts of mining on the environment.”

Just last week, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) announced that most of its member companies are ISO-certified.

These include Benguet Corp., Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co., Philex Mining, OceanaGold Phils., Rio Tuba Nickel Mines, Filminera Resources, Carmen Copper, Greenstone Resources, Hinatuan Mining, MarcVentures Mining & Dev. Corp., Taganito Mining, LNL Archipelago Minerals, CTP Construction & Mining, Philsaga Mining and Platinum Group Metals Corp.

Among those whose applications are still pending are Berong Nickel Corp., Apex Mining Co. Minimax Mineral Explo and Pacific Nickel Phils.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Saving eagles, protecting forests

by Jonathan L. Mayuga - June 25, 2016 [ ]

AS part of its ongoing conservation program, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) continues to monitor and record sightings of the Philippine Eagle.

“Sightings of the eagle increase as we expand the areas we are monitoring. We would like to think that the population, too, is increasing, because of the increase in reported sightings as we expand our coverage,” said DENR-BMB Director Theresa Mundita S. Lim. Hunting for food and trophy, and the fragmentation of natural forest, she said, remain as the biggest threats to all wildlife.

“If forested areas are disturbed by human activities, such as agriculture or mining, the eagles are forced to leave and find other areas where they can find food. As they fly in other areas to find a suitable habitat, they are exposed to risks of being shot by hunters or captured,” she said.

From 2010 to 2015, the DENR has recorded sightings of Philippine Eagle, including nests in various parts of Mindanao, Luzon and the Visayas, particularly in Samar and Leyte. From 2010 to 2013, there were only 29 recorded sightings but in 2014 sightings of the Philippine eagle increased to 40. In 2015 the DENR-BMB recorded a total of 47 sightings. The reports came from the DENR’s partners, such as the Haribon Foundation and Regional Eagle Watch Teams, which are tasked to monitor and record sightings of the Philippine Eagle.

The bulk of the Philippine Eagle population, Lim said, is in Mindanao, particularly in Northern Mindanao, where increased sightings of the rare eagle, including nests outside declared protected areas, had been recently observed.

Captive breeding

Besides breeding in the wild, protecting the eagles and their nests, efforts to conserve the Philippine Eagle are also anchored on a captive-breeding program.

The Philippines boast of a successful captive-breeding program. The Philippine Eagle Foundation, a not-for-profit nongovernmental organization, in partnership with the DENR, had produced a total of 27 eagles bred in captivity since 1991.

The eggs were produced either through natural pairing or cooperative artificial insemination. Three of the eagles have been successfully released into the wild. However, the DENR’s record showed that two of them had died, while another was recaptured.
“Kabayan,” the first eagle bred in captivity that was released into the wild on April 22, 2004 at the Philippine National Oil Geothermal Reservation within the Mount Apo National Park in Kidapawan City, accidentally died of electrocution on January 8, 2005.”

Another eagle, “Hineleban” was released on October 29, 2009, at the Mount Kitanglad Range Natural Park in Sumilao, Bukidnon. It was believed to have been killed on November 30, 2009, after the radio transmitter stopped transmitting a signal.

What is believed to be the remains of the eagle were discovered on January 15, 2010, in Barangay Lupiagan in Bukidnon.

The third eagle, Chick No. 23, was recaptured and is undergoing rehabilitation. Kikko Kalabud, communication officer of the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), said the group is currently monitoring two eagles that the foundation released—one in Bukidnon and the other one in Apayao. So far, he said, the eagles are doing well. Five of the eagles released into the wild were killed by hunters, Kalabud said.

Currently, the PEF has in its custody a total of 35 eagles, including those that were bred in captivity. Only seven eagles are exhibited at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City for educational purposes. “The rest are kept in enclosures in isolation to minimize human interaction,” he said.

A continuing program

Lim said the DENR-BMB’s information, education and communication campaign is a continuing program.

The celebration of the Philippine Eagle Week, she said, highlights the importance of saving the Philippine Eagle, which also means saving the forest from destruction. The DENR, Lim said, is expanding its partnership with various institutions.

The DENR-BMB kicked off the celebration of the Philippine Eagle Week from June 4 to 10 with a partnership with the Enchanted Kingdom, which will soon highlight the Philippine Eagle in one of its many attractions.

The partnership, Lim said, aims to further strengthen public awareness on the significant role of the Philippine Eagle in the forests, its importance as a national symbol, and the unique heritage the future generations must enjoy and help protect. The DENR-BMB is also pushing for its proposed adopt-a-wildlife scheme. “Right now, we are hoping to partner with the Energy Development Corp. for the adoption of the Philippine Eagle,” she said.

Conservation efforts to prevent the Philippine Eagle from being extinct face the same old problems.

While there are laws that impose severe punishment for violators of environmental laws, the poor enforcement of these laws is failing to stop the rapid loss of biodiversity.

The massive destruction of ecosystems, illegal-wildlife trade and in the case of the Philippine Eagle—hunting is still strongly felt.

The killing of a Philippine Eagle is punishable by imprisonment of between six and 12 years, and/or a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million, as stipulated in Republic Act 9147, or the wildlife protection and conservation law.

Many of those who commit the crime, however, remain unpunished, as cases remain unsolved.

Lim said there is really a need to teach every Filipino the real value of the country’s rich biodiversity, particularly its unique wildlife, like the Philippine Eagle, before it is too late. After all, Lim said, biodiversity loss is everybody’s loss.