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The Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) presented its assessment of the remaining Boracay rehabilitation activities  and subsequently conducted a meeting with the alternate members of the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force last March 08-11, 2022 at Boracay Island, Malay Aklan in order to move forward in pursuing its long-term goal of restoring the natural beauty of the Island and to regain its prestige as a “paradise on earth”.

DENR key officials and the alternate members of the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force cemented their commitment to complete their mandate on the rehabilitation of Boracay until June 30, 2022 pursuant to Executive Order No. 147, s. 2022.

“There is a need for us to firm up DENR’s position in the rehabilitation of Boracay and to commit to it for the succeeding months to come,” said Undersecretary Ernesto D. Adobo Jr., who presided the meeting as Head of BIATF Secretariat.

The four-day activity centers on updates regarding the progress of the rehabilitation of Boracay Island as well as the pressing concerns to be addressed and their corresponding action plans, pursuant to the Boracay Action Plan (BAP).

 Before the end of the four day activity a Memorandum of Agreement (MOU) was entered into by the DENR with the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD), Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG), National Housing Authority (NHA), Provincial Government of Aklan, and Municipal Government of Malay in order to provide a  relocation/resettlement site for Boracay workers whose houses were affected by the rehabilitation activities.

The MOU aims to provide a framework of cooperation and partnership among the member-agencies that shall jointly facilitate the establishment of the Boracay Workers Village (BWV).

It can be recalled that pursuant to EO No. 53 s. 2018, the Interagency Task Force formulated the BAP that served as a guide for Boracay Island’s rehabilitation. The BAP highlights four thematic areas namely, Enforcement of Laws and Regulation (Theme 1); Pollution Control and Prevention (Theme 2); Rehabilitation and Recovery of Ecosystems (Theme 3); and Sustainability of Island Activities (Theme 4). The rehabilitation activities focused on these four thematic areas which ultimately aims to ensure the conservation and protection of Boracay Island.

The rehabilitation of Boracay Island is one of the top ten (10) priority programs of the DENR./ DENR 6

The Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) have a new General Manager in the person of Director II Martin Jose Valentino Despi.

Director Despi is not new to the rehabilitation works implemented by the government in Boracay Island. He was there from the beginning of the rehabilitation as a former Head Coordinator of the Beach Tourism Monitoring Team (BTMT) of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) under the Office of DILG Undersecretary for Operations, Epimaco V. Densing, III.

From DILG Despi transferred to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and was given the Director II appointment at the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB). Prior to his assignment as BIARMG General Manager, he was the Assistant Regional Director (ARD) for Special Concerns at the National Capital Region by virtue of Special Order No. 2021-362 on July 8, 2021.

During the simple turn-over ceremony on February 2, 2022, Despi admitted that he “didn’t even think this would be possible in the future.” He never thought of himself being given the assignment as GM and would again return to the beautiful island of Boracay to continue with the rehabilitation works.

Despi also thanked outgoing GM Natividad Y. Bernardino “for her dedication despite the risks and threats she has gone through just to deliver what the Secretary wanted – to provide a better Boracay not only for Boracaynons but for the entire country.”

DENR Region 6 regional executive director Livino B. Duran encouraged GM Despi to work on the remaining targets before the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force’s term ends by June 2022.

“She (referring to outgoing GM) turned over the responsibility to continue the gains we have had and to perform the remaining activities. Mas malaki ang challenge sa ngayon because patapos na tayo and we wanted later on to have this turned-over to various government agencies that will assume specific mandates in Boracay Island. We do hope we could already have the Boracay Island Development Authority (BIDA),” said RED Duran.

Despi is the fifth BIARMG GM. The management started with Engr. Paquito T. Moreno, Jr., now Regional Executive Director (RED) in Region 3. Moreno turned-over the responsibility to RED Francisco E. Milla, Jr. who was assigned as RED for DENR 6 in 2019 and was reassigned in Region 5 in June 2021. Then, RED Milla turned it over to RED Duran, formerly DENR 6’s ARD for Technical Services and now RED of DENR 6, who later turned it over to Natividad Y. Bernardino who is now assigned as the Bureau Director for the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB)./DENR 6

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 6 is reminding all candidates in the coming May 2022 elections to be mindful of the environment and spare the trees from their campaign materials and of their other campaign activities.

“The campaign materials should always have their designated posting areas, but not in the trees. The use of iron nails or gun tacker will only injure or damage the health condition of the trees. It would cut through the trees’ protective bark and pierces the inside of a tree, which causes the entry of harmful organisms. Some studies found that it could even cause cancer on trees,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

“We also encourage the candidates to recycle their campaign materials after the election or perhaps, eliminate the use of single-use plastics/wastes by going digital with their campaign,” he added.

Section 3 of Presidential Decree 953 prohibits the cutting, destroying, damaging or injuring of naturally grown and planted trees of any kind unless it is necessary for public safety. The law also prescribe punishment for violators with six months but not more than two years of imprisonment, or with a fine of not less than five hundred pesos but not more than five thousand pesos, or with both such imprisonment than fine at the discretion of the court.

The DENR 6 warned that campaign materials posted on trees will be removed immediately without prior notice and regardless of who the owners are./DENR 6

In a first historic milestone for the year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as represented by DENR 6 regional executive director Livino B. Duran, accepts the role to continue the sustainable protection, conservation and management of the rehabilitated Wetland No. 2, now known as the Boracay Wetland Conservation Park.

Wetland No. 2, located in Sitio Pinaungon, Brgy. Balabag, covers more than seven hectares. It was rehabilitated for three and a half years by its adopter, the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) through the DENR’s Adopt-A-Wetland Program launched in 2018 by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu. The Program was aimed at tapping the support of the business sector to help augment the government’s efforts in restoring the wetlands of Boracay Island.

The turn-over of the management of Boracay Wetland Conservation Park from EDC to DENR was symbolized with a coffee table book titled “Wildlife Treasures”, with the presence of Anson M. Tagtag, the OIC Chief of the Caves, Wetlands and Other Ecosystems Division under the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), on behalf of the EDC. The event served as the highlight for the Philippine celebration of the World Wetlands Day 2022 on February 2, held right inside the rehabilitated Boracay Wetland Conservation Park. This year’s World Wetlands Day theme is: “Wetland Actions for People and Nature.”

“With this representation for the DENR as regional executive director of DENR Region 6, I hereby accept with much gratitude and great appreciation the restored Boracay Wetland No. 2 from the Energy Development Corporation today, February 2, 2022,” Director Duran said.

“Wetland No. 2 is one of the important wetland ecosystems in Boracay Island. With the new ecotourism attractions, this will serve as a learning laboratory – an arboretum for environmental enthusiasts and environmental practitioners,” Duran added.

Former Boracay Inter-Agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) General Manager Natividad Y. Bernardino underscored the need for balance of toughness and compassion to carry on with the rehabilitation works for Boracay. “The approach we took for wetland rehabilitation clearly demonstrates the power of collective action among the private sector, government and local communities for nature rehab,” she said. Bernardino is now assigned as Bureau Director of the BMB.

“Boracay will not be an island paradise without these wetlands as they play a crucial role in the island’s whole ecosystem – from flood control to source of freshwater for the locals, a home of unique biodiversity. My gratitude to the adopters for heeding the call and the challenge to augment the government’s efforts during the rehab phase,” said Ernesto D. Adobo, Jr., Head, BIATF Secretariat, in his message read by Assistant Secretary for Field Operations – Visayas Arleigh Adorable.

“Wetlands are critically vital ecosystems. They provide food, and freshwater and act as a natural defense against flooding. As the kidneys of the earth, they filter water through their vegetation and substrates. They help mitigate climate change and provide healing through their recreational uses. Wetlands are certainly not wastelands,” said DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu who delivered his message off-site and via Zoom meeting app.

“This year’s World Wetlands Day theme: ‘Wetlands Action for People and Nature’ highlights the importance of concerted actions for the conservation and sustainable use of wetlands for the benefit of humanity, the environment and biodiversity. Our venue for this year’s celebration, the wetland of Boracay, is very much attuned to this theme,” Cimatu added.

Despite the brown out and the pouring rains, the World Wetlands Day 2022 celebration was successfully conducted in a hybrid setting. Most of the audience were present in the online Zoom meeting platform while around 50 to 60 attended physically on-site while observing the basic health protocols.

Event’s hosts are Joyce A. Se of the BMB and SB Christian Gelito of Brgy. Manoc-manoc. Se and Gelito stood hosting despite the strong winds and the pouring rain, allowing the show to go on.

During the hybrid event, the audience listened as other adopted wetlands in Boracay were presented in the segment Boracay Wetlands Milestones and Accomplishments. Presenters were as follows: Christopher M. Camba, First Vice President for Corporate External Relations of Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. for Wetland No. 4; Engr. Oliver Absalon, Water Supply Manager for Boracay Tubi Systems, Inc. for Wetland No. 6; and Rey Nelson Amparo, Team Lead for Boracay Wetland 8 Rehabilitation of JG Summit Olefins Corporation./DENR 6

With the continuous rise of COVID-19 cases from day to day, the government finds it still alarming and have done all sorts of campaign and activities in order to minimize the impact of the pandemic.

Last year, the government has announced that the country is ready for the vaccination roll out and everyone was encouraged to get vaccinated. Only few however, had a positive response to it.  Most of the takers are those who work in the government and the frontliners, since they had to deal with the public and their lives were literally on the line.

The government’s vaccination campaign had its peak by the end of CY 2021 and everyone who are eligible for vaccination are encouraged to get vaccinated. However, as per data gathered, there are a few among the employees of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 who did not avail of the free vaccination roll out. Some reasoned they fear the side effects of the vaccines while others have valid health issues and rare medical comorbidities.

In response to this, the DENR 6 Administrative Division facilitated for a one-day medical check-up for all regional employees who are still unvaccinated last January 14, 2022. The event was done at the Activity Center with Dr. Leah Rose S. Dimzon tapped as doctor-in-charge. This was also an activity under the Health and Wellness Program of the regional office. Everyone who lined-up observed the basic health protocols such as the wearing of face mask and shield and social distancing during the pre-assessment, medical check-up and demonstration activity.

Twenty-five (25) personnel availed of the free medical check-up and were assisted by Dr. Dimzon to determine if they are fit enough to get vaccinated. The activity also helped them find out if they have illnesses that could have gotten serious had they not availed of the free medical check-up.  An actual demonstration on how to install the regulator and administer the oxygen via oxygen tank was also done by Dr. Dimzon.

Furthermore, the Office distributed 213 boxes of vitamin C consisting of 100 tablets per box for regular and casual employees based at the regional office./DENR 6