Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu welcomed the move by the Senate to approve the spending plan of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for 2019.

Cimatu said the approval of the DENR’s 2019 budget amounting to P24.17 billion would allow the agency to deliver on the priority programs and projects geared towards the protection of the environment, and the conservation and sustainable use of the country’s rich natural resources.

“We can finalize and carry out our 2019 plans, policies and activities to realize our mandate of improving the lives of Filipinos, while protecting and conserving our rich biodiversity for present and future generations,” Cimatu said, as he thanked the lawmakers for the approval.

The Senate approved the 2019 DENR budget on Monday night, following a two-hour interpellation. Senator Cynthia Villar sponsored and defended the DENR budget, while four senators—Manny Pacquiao, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros and Richard Gordon—interpellated her.

During the period of interpellation, the senators inquired on the priority areas and species for growing under the Enhanced National Greening Program (eNGP), implementation of the solid waste management and clean water laws in relation to the Manila Bay cleanup, status of ban on open pit mining, and the Boracay rehabilitation.

The lawmakers commended the DENR and Cimatu for showing “sheer political will” in carrying out the closure and rehabilitation of Boracay and the plan to rehabilitate other ecotourism sites.

For 2019, the DENR has allotted P5.072 billion, or almost 21 per cent of its total budget, to forest and watershed management through the eNGP, while almost P890 million have been earmarked to intensify its activities on forest protection and to fight illegal logging.

The agency is also setting aside more than three per cent, or P732 million, to carry out its activities in protected area development and wildlife protection and conservation.

Other priority areas include improvement of land administration and management with almost P400 million; scaling up of coastal and marine ecosystems with P267.69 million; and cleanup of Manila Bay with P80 million.

Of its line agencies, the Environmental Management Bureau has been allotted P969.8 million to implement programs on clean air, clean water, and solid waste management.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau, on the other hand, will get P469.07 million for geohazard, ground water assessment, and responsible mining programs.

The DENR’s proposed budget for 2019 is almost three per cent lower than the P24.91 billion budget for the agency in the General Appropriations Act for 2018. ###