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Amidst the disconcerting threat of the COVID-19 pandemic and the uncertainty of the world’s environment condition comes the greater responsibility of the government to lend a helping hand. This draws attention to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as it upholds its obligation to provide help and addressing environmental health and justice.

Thus, on June 25, 2021, in celebration of the 158th Anniversary of The Philippine Forestry Service and Arbor Day 2021, the Conservation and Development Division (CDD) of DENR 6 launches the Community Pan-TREE with the theme: “Mananom sa Masarangan kag Mag ani sa Palaabuton” and  distributed more than 200 fruit tree seedling to market goers in Sta. Barbara municipal market in Iloilo province.

The fruit tree seedlings were provided by the department of Agriculture thru its DA Research Outreach Station and also by the local government unit of Sta. Barbara.

DENR 6 field office in Capiz also launched their Community Pan-TREE, PENRO Capiz and CENRO Mambusao distributed fruit and forest tree seedlings. Meanwhile, CENRO Kabankalan in the province of Negros Occidental has collaborated with Hope Builders Organizations in launching the proposed pantry by donating 100 tree seedlings.

The DENR plays a salient role in preventing and reducing pollution as it aims to promote building green, healthy, and sustainable communities and environments. Surely, there is no opportunity missed when it comes to helping communities in their endeavor and movement to a better and greener environment.

Through tree planting activities, The DENR 6 continuously promotes Biodiversity Conservation, which is one of the ten priority programs of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

DENR 6 Regional Executive Director, Livino B. Duran, released a memorandum on the temporary office closure for disinfection due to alarming number of personnel infected with COVID-19 and the rising number of identified primary contacts. The closure started on July27th until the 30th.

Scheduled meetings, orientations and conferences are done virtually. DENR 6 websiteis also open for online queries and transactions to the public in order not to hamper the operations.

DENR 6 personnel are instructed to observe work from home setup and shall accomplish their corresponding work targets as scheduled.

DENR 6 management immediately conducted a contact tracing to those who were in direct contact with the suspected positive personnel in the office. Swab test results were revealedthat there are quite a large number of personnel who were positive with COVID-19 virus. As a matter of protocol, those who were in close contact with the positive employees must undergo a mandatory swab testing and a 14-day quarantine to ensure the safety of other employees and their immediate families.

In order to contain the rising number of COVID-19 cases, the following offices are closed for the disinfection; Dir. Julian Amador Building III and Dir. Teodoro Simpas Building are closed on July 27-30, 2021; Dir. Manuel Lagunilla Building is closed on July 27, 2021; and Building I and II are closed on July 28-30, 2021.

The number may be quite alarming but the Office of the Regional Executive Director makes sure to integrate all possible means in observing safety measures to contain the spread of the virus in the DENR 6 regional office and in the two other buildings - the Teodoro S. Simpas building which houses the Surveys and Mapping Division in Brgy. Sto. Rosario and the Manuel L. Lagunilla building in Parola Street which houses the Hostel, and the offices of National Greening Program (NGP) and Biodiversity, Coastal, Wetlands and Ecotourism Research Center (BCWERC).

“We are also monitoring the number of personnel already vaccinated and encourage employees to register with their respective local government units for vaccination,” said RED Duran as DENR 6 works to achieve herd immunity.

Furthermore, effective health communication for the adoption of sustainable preventive measures and curtailing misinformation is also being implemented to ensure that everyone has the correct knowledge about the pandemic. DENR Regional office operation will resume on Monday, August 2, 2021.

Under the leadership of the new DENR 6 OIC Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran, a hybrid Regional Management Conference (RMC) which conforms to safety health protocols was conducted recently. The goal of the RMC is to set the directions which the regional office would pursue in line with DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s ten priority programs and projects.  RED Duran called on all DENR 6 key officials, especially those at the field level, to perform the mandate and services of the Department for the people of Western Visayas, which shall be attuned to the new normal. Some of the highlights of the discussion include the need to address the issue on corn plantation in Nothern Iloilo, the continuing rehab and development in Boracay Island in Aklan province and the Malandog  River in Antique province and of the flagship reforestation program, the National Greening Program.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 is now led by Forester Livino B. Duran as the new Regional Executive Director. He was appointed by virtue of Special Order No. 2021-293 approved by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on June 2, 2021.

A native of Sebaste, Antique, RED Duran is a graduate of Bachelor of Science in Forestry from G. Araneta University Foundation in Manila (now the De La Salle–Araneta University). He started with the then Bureau of Forest Development (BFD) as Forest Technician in 1982. He rose from the ranks and holds the position of PENR Officer from 2002 until 2009 assigned in various provinces in the region and become known for being brave, even facing death threats in the line of duty. He was also assigned as OIC-RTD for Forestry, as Asst. Regional Director (ARD) for Management Services then ARD Technical Services, as OIC EMB 6 Regional Director, as OIC-Regional Director for Negros Island Region, and finally, as the Regional Executive Director (RED) of Region 6.He is a Career Executive Service Eligible (CESE).

RED Duran also received citations, namely: Topnotcher, 7th CENR Management Course; Top Performing PENR Officer Award in 2007; 8th placer among the graduates of 8th Middle Level Forestry Technical Training on Erosion Control; Recognition of Leadership by Example awarded by DENR 6 in 2007; and Distinction of Exemplary Performance in the Training Course on Supervisor Development and Protected Area.

 Different field offices of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 have conducted simultaneous coastal clean-up operationsin light of the celebration of Month of the Ocean (MOO) every month of May.

The ocean covers more than 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and it is home to thousands of living species. This year’s Month of the Ocean Celebration with the theme “The Science We Need for the Ocean We Want,” is inspired by the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

It is important to increase our appreciation on what science can do to protect our oceans and convey these learnings to our fellow citizens. People around the globe have come up with actions such as conducting coastal clean-up operations to address impacts from climate change and marine pollutions that threatens our coastal environments.

The Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Culasi in the province of Antique together with their local government unit (LGU) conducted a clean-up drive along the shores of Brgy. Lamputong,Culasi Antique. Thirty-eight (38) volunteers participated in the activity, collecting six sacks of non-biodegradable wastes consisting of plastics, bottles and cans.Short Information, Education and Communication (IEC) campaign about the importance of ocean and its resources in our life helped to educate the citizen in managing their wastes.

A coastal clean-up activity was conducted at Purok I, Brgy. Libas, Roxas City initiated by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) Capiz, Environmental Management Bureau’s (EMB) Environmental Monitoring Officers (EnMOs) and LGUs where a total of 51 sacks equivalent to 2,725 kilograms of trash consisting of plastic bags, plastic cups, bottles, straws, spoon forks, styro cups, rugs, used nets, nylon strings, cigarette butts, backpack, trolley bag and glass bottles were collected.

In the island province of Guimaras, almost 700 kilograms of trash were picked up during their coastal clean-up activity at Brgy. Avila, Buenavista, Guimaras, with volunteers from PENRO Guimaras together with the LGUs and Avila Fisherfolks Association, Inc. (AFAI), a partner stakeholder, the coastal clean-up and mangrove planting activity were conducted at Brgy. Igcawayan, San Lorenzo, Guimaras. An estimated 20 kilograms of waste were collected and they were also able to plant 200 pieces of Bacauanpropagules.

PENRO Negros Occidental, CENRO Kabankalan City, LGUs, Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) and others participated in the coastal clean-up collecting 25 sacks of trash and attended an IEC lecture on Beat Plastic Pollution and Ocean Science, emphasizing the importance of coastal and marine resources and our roles as steward of the environment to protect and conserve marine life at Brgy. Tagda, Hinigaran, Negros Occidental.

These initiatives help in conserving our marine wildlife and the ocean that sustainably feeds the global population with food supply and develops equitable ocean economy.

“Coastal clean-ups help remove plastics in the shore to prevent wind-up in the ocean. Plastic debris that are less than five millimeters in length called, “microplastics’’ threats our marine animals. Managing our waste is highly encouraged to save our marine wildlife species,” said regional executive director Livino B. Duran.

Clean Water, Solid Waste Management and Scaling-up Coastal and Marine Ecosystem Program are among the top priority of Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.