Press Releases

The year 2022 may have been a recovery year in the economic and health aspects of the country. But environmental challenges paint a different picture.

Natural calamities which caused great damages in many parts of the country did not spare Western Visayas region. In fact, typhoon-related incidences ranked the highest in recorded environmental threats in the region in CY 2022, Lawin patrol reports disclosed.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 through its Enforcement Division which manages the reports coming from the Lawin patrollers in the six provinces, namely: Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo and Negros Occidental, have continuously monitored the environmental threats in the region.

Patrollers use the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System that helps to eliminate the manual process of encoding field data as it uses SMART (Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool) and Cyber Tracker applications installed in smart phones. It is the Lawin system that helps the DENR 6 patrollers to identify forest and biodiversity threats and paves the way for the Department to work with various local government units to implement interventions in order to address the threats monitored in their respective areas.

Of the thirteen environmental threats in the region’s forestlands, typhoon-related threat ranked first with 155 occurences. It was followed by hut or house or illegal infrastructures with 32; landslides and mudslides with 27; cutting of trees with 24; slash-and-burn (kaingin) farming with 16; hunting with 15; annual and perennial farming with 13; garbage with 11; charcoal with 8; fire and, pests and diseases, both with 5 occurences; and, logging trail and mining and quarrying, both with 1 occurrence each.

Aside from typhoon-related threat which is a force majeure and requires no further actions, the rest of the threats which the DENR 6’s Lawin patrollers have documented were given stern warning. Notwithstanding the legal principle: “ignorance of the law excuses no one”, the DENR 6 Lawin patrol teams had been keen, not only in given warnings, but also in educating folks in upland communities.

Upon threat identification, Lawin patrollers make responses during and after patrol activity are done. During patrol, the team would first document, educate, warn and if the situation so warrants, destroy and dismantle illegal structures. They also engaged in apprehension, arrest and pursuit of violators. Moreover, if needed, filing of case against environmental crime would take its course.

“The constant presence of our Lawin Patrollers is already a deterrence to illegal activities, it may not be 100% but by being on site and visible, we can say that indeed we are serious in the implementation of ENR laws, rules and regulation. Also our Lawin patrollers are good information and education communicators. While patrolling, they also talk to the members of the community about the importance of conservation, management and protection of the natural resources,” said Forester June Melissa C. Garol, Enforcement Division Chief of DENR 6.

 A total of 9,156.91 kilometers had been patrolled in the region in CY 2022, with the Community ENR Office (CENRO) Bago City and Provincial ENRO Aklan topping the list of accomplishment. CENRO Bago City patrolled 1,217 km., and PENRO Aklan with 1,135 km. Their excellent performance were due to the big number of volunteers from LGUs and the hired forest protection officers to augment the DENR in its ENR related activities which include Lawin patrol.

 “Our forestlands are treasure trove of the many things we need to exist – the oxygen, clean water, food, and medicine – apart from the aesthetics they possessed that continue to inspire us so we enjoy life. We are grateful to our Lawin patrollers for the untiring efforts they exert in guarding our forestlands, even risking their own lives in the process,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

A river and mangrove cleanup was led by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on March 21, 2023 at the Iloilo River Esplanade 4 in time for the double celebration of the International Day of Forests (March 21) and World Water Day (March 22).

Cleanup volunteers involved youths from different colleges in the city and province of Iloilo and learned how to identify different wastes during the activity. Almost a hundred volunteers take part in the river and mangrove cleanup.

A staff from the Conservation and Development Division (CDD) of DENR 6 was assigned as group leader to oversee the waste collection in every segment of Esplanade 4. A total of six segments, stretching more or less to 800 meters, are covered during the cleanup. Volunteers were able to collect 36 ½ sacks of wastes with an estimated weight of 194.5 kilograms. The City ENRO team assisted the DENR 6 with the waste disposal after the activity.

The International Day of Forests 2023 adopted the theme: “Healthy Forests for Healthy People” which underscores the basic human need, and our dependence on healthy forests to keep us all healthy as well. Meanwhile, the World Water Day theme is “Accelerating Change through Partnerships and Cooperation” which calls for everyone to take action to accelerate change in order to provide solutions to the ongoing challenge on global water and sanitation crisis.

No other place within the city could be more attuned for the said celebrations than the river esplanade. Afterall, it is a success story in itself after a strong collaboration from all stakeholders was forged and change was carried out.

“The government was able to transform the Iloilo River from a polluted one to an enhanced, clean and attractive place. Each of us play a role, especially the youths, in cleaning up our environment, in protecting our mangrove forests,” said Assistant Regional Director for Technical Services Raul L. Lorilla.

In capping off the celebrations, the team from the Conservation and Development Division (CDD) of DENR 6 encouraged all participants to leave their handprints to create a beautiful canvass of a tree using acrylic paint. The piece of art depicts the cooperation of everyone in the society, especially the youths, to take action and be part of the better change that we all need.

“Like the piece of art we have made, our doings things hand-in-hand or together, and no matter how small, will create a bigger impact. We can always contribute to a better, climate change resilient society, to sustainable development with our small actions, wherever we are,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran.

It wades through the water searching for food. Its unmistakable elegant presence with boldly pied plumage, long bluish-gray legs and slender upcurved bill is caught on the lens during the conduct of Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) last January 17, 2023 at Brgy. Latasan, E.B. Magalona, Negros Occidental.

The winged visitor was a Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta). It was quite a surprise for the team composed of personnel from the DENR PENRO Negros Occidental, E.B. Magalona Local Government Unit, Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc. (PhilBio), and the ENR Ambassadors and volunteer students from Tanza National High School to have seen the bird as it breed in temperate parts of Europe across Central Asia and to the Russian Far East.

Christian Casio of PhilBio captured in photos the Pied avocet foraging for food around a vacant fishpond together with the Black-winged stilts. The team of Conservation and Development Section (CDS) of DENR PENRO Negros Occidental checked the 2021 and 2022 AWC data to confirm whether there were previous sighting of the waterbird. Forester Rosie Pablico, CDS Chief, confirmed this was the first record of the species in Negros Occidental and in Western Visayas.

“We don’t know exactly what caused the waterbird to change its course and migrated here in the Philippines, and specifically in the province of Negros Occidental. This is another first for us. We know however that the continuous visit of the migratory birds year in and year out only proved that we have rich wetlands,” said Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6.

It could be recalled that in February 4, 2017, Western Visayas welcomed the arrival of Brent goose (Branta bernicla nigricans) in the coastal areas of Hinactacan, Lapaz, Iloilo City. That was the first country record as confirmed by the bird experts from PhilBio.

Then on July 20, 2018, the Christmas Frigatebird (Fregata andrewsi) or Christmas Island frigatebird made its first-recorded visit in Panay Island. Sighted by Andre Bonnie Balderas and Nelson Rondan of Panay Bird Club, the Christmas Frigatebird was seen soaring high over the coastal road in Dumangas, Iloilo. On November 29, 2020, the colorful Glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) made a surprising touchdown in Hinactacan wetlands. Both the Brent Goose and the Glossy ibis were photographed and recorded by Rachel Casio of the Conservation and Development Division of DENR 6.

Beautiful winged visitors are here again with their migration that started in September last year and will end by March this year. The conduct of the Asian Waterbird Census provides valuable data which helped government authorities to identify wetland sites for priority protection and management and also set aside wetlands of national and international importance. Such is the classification of the Negros Occidental Coastal Wetlands Conservation Area (NOCWCA), which happens to be the 7th Ramsar site in the country.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo Loyzaga led the inauguration of the new DENR 6 Monitoring Building on Thursday, January 19, 2023.

“This new Monitoring Building used to be an old, abandoned and dilapidated building left by the Iloilo Harbor Pilots Association,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran during a short program for the building inauguration. The strategic location of the building prompted the management of DENR 6 to utilize it for its own use instead, thereby contributing to the modernization of the office and beautifying the area where it now stands.

The new Monitoring Building will house the Storage and Procurement Bay (for disposal and for acquired supplies and materials), the General Services Section, and PENRO Iloilo’s Forest Products and Wildlife Traffic Monitoring Section (to monitor charcoal and wildlife from Guimaras Island) at the ground floor. Meanwhile, the second floor of the building will house permanent records of the Planning and Management Division, the Finance Division, and the Administrative Division. Lastly, the roof deck will be used for monitoring purposes.

“My main concern is for you to optimize the records, and possibly look into the digitization of the records you’re going to file here. We all know that records are important. At the end of the day, if they degrade or are damaged, we will lose them forever. We need to digitize and have the records already prepared in a form that can be handed down by this particular office,” said Secretary Loyzaga.

“This is a unique spot and a historic boulevard. You have a gem here. I’d like everyone to represent the Department in a dignified and in a professional way as possible. This is the face of the DENR now. Congratulations for this hard work. This is an excellent manifestation of the dedication of DENR,” she added.

The new Monitoring Building of DENR 6 is located in Muelle Loney Street, and is overlooking the Iloilo River and Guimaras Strait. A unique spot, indeed.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Region 6 strongly advised the local government unit of Malay to continue observing the safety protocols in holding the community fireworks display to welcome the New Year 2023 in Boracay Island.

In a letter dated December 5, 2022, the LGU Malay in its request letter wrote: “The holiday season is here and we are anticipating an influx of tourists to spend their holiday vacation in the island. It is the responsibility of this Local Government Unit to create quality and memorable experience for tourists visiting Boracay Island as well as the local residents.” Then it continues: “The Boracay Foundation, Incorporated (BFI) requested for a 20-minute fireworks display to welcome the new year and the Local Government Unit of Malay is in full support of this initiative.”

DENR Region 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran clarified in its reply to the letter that his office “interposes no objection” on the conduct of the community fireworks display.

Director Duran, however, reminded the LGU of three things to observe, namely: 1. Conduct the activity 100 meters off-shore; 2. Use pyrotechnics for a much-safer activity as it can be used in a much closer proximity to the audience since the product is more controllable in nature. Pyro also produces almost zero debris and is usually used around stadiums and any area for dramatic effect; and, 3. Clean-up the area after the community fireworks display activity to keep the island safe. The clean-up would also mean tourists and residents should not leave wastes around the designated areas.

Moreover, as to sandcastle which is one of the tourist attractions in the island, Director Duran affirmed that the LGU-Malay has the right to “impose regulations on sandcastle building within the 25+5 beach easement and part of the forestland for protection purposes  under Presidential Proclamation 1064,” in a letter reply dated December 13, 2022.

Since sandcastle building are temporary structures and can be removed under natural coastal erosion, Director Duran said it can be allowed. However, such activity should be subjected to protective measures to prevent further degradation of the shoreline. Director Duran added that the LGU-Malay should strictly enforce the following measures, namely:

  1. Sandcastle builders must secure permit from the LGU of Malay.
  2. No minor should be allowed to engage in sandcastle building during school days.
  3. They should be registered under the Boracay Sandcastle Makers Association or any other duly recognized groups for proper identification and training.
  4. Sandcastle makers should always wear proper identification and uniforms.
  5. They shall only operate within duly identified areas within the beachfront of the island.
  6. Sandcastles shall not exceed the area of 5 meters and a height of 5 feet.
  7. No chemicals, cement, or any binding agent to improve the stability of the sandcastle shall be used except for seawater.
  8. Sand shall not be removed or transferred from one area to another for sandcastle building.
  9. Kerosene gas lamps, candles, or any other decorations/colorations that may contaminate the sand is prohibited.
  10. Sandcastle building shall be allowed from 10:00 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon.
  11. Areas where the sandcastle is built must be cleared and returned to its original state after the allotted period.
  12. No sandcastle building outside the designated areas for special occasions shall be allowed without proper clearance from the Local Government Unit of Malay.

“Boracay Island have always been fragile. Any island ecosystem is fragile. So all the safety protocols that were put in place even during the start of the island rehabilitation should be sustained. All for the good of the island and its people,” Director Duran said.