Press Releases

In his aim to have all Protected Areas (PAs) to be fully planted of trees within its strict protection and multiple use zones, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu met with Region 6 Senior Officials and field implementers for a rigid discussion and workshop to eventually come up with a doable work plan for implementation this CY 2022, just recently.

Regional Executive Director (RED) for Region 6 Livino B. Duran led the brainstorming and deliberation of data of all PAs in the region based on the actual situation on the ground as to how many hectares shall be allocated in the protection zone and that for multiple use zone as well as the species and number of seedlings needed to enhance/enrich the whole area.

PAs are under the supervision and management of the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) where the Regional Executive Director serves as its Chair. “Our work plan should address all the concerns and instructions of the Secretary that will cover Clean Air, Clean Water, ESWM, enhanced Biodiversity and enhanced NGP.”, RED Duran stressed.  

The activity was attended by ARDs for Technical Services Raul L. Lorilla and ARD for Special Concerns Ivene D. Reyes and were joined together by the PENROs, CENROs, PASUs, NGP Coordinators, and senior staff from the regional office.

One of the identified species for planting include bamboos for it provides livelihood and sequester carbon more efficiently. Peoples Organization (POs) involved in the National Greening Program implementation will be tapped to undergo this activity from nursery establishment, site development, planting, and up to maintenance and protection.

Region 6 has 5 legislated PAs and 9 with initial components covered by Presidential Proclamations and another 4 without PAMB with a total area of 204,523.39 hectares. With this, giving due importance to all the Pas, not only in Western Visayas but in the whole country is the best option to ensure a well-protected tree plantations which is very important in our quest for a greener and cleaner environment and the best habitat for our wildlife.

Secretary Cimatu also instructed each PENRO and CENRO to closely coordinate with their respective LGUs from the Province, City, Municipality down to the barangays and to encourage them to establish their respective mini-forests. He also encouraged the PENROs and CENROs to tap the LGU-led environment officials to work together in the implementation of all environmental laws and policies.

"We need these ENROs to work together to achieve our role of a clean and healthy Mother Earth", Cimatu qoute.

Intensified Forest Protection and Anti-illegal Logging is among the 10 Priority programs of the DENR Secretary.

In upholding the provisions outlined in Presidential Decree 705, or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines signed in 1975, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) now implements the environmental law in collaboration with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) by ordering illegal occupants to vacate the area. This is to also sustain the Boracay rehabilitation gains which began in 2018.

In Chapter 1, Section 5, the law succinctly stated that “the Bureau (refers to the former Bureau of Forest Development, now DENR) shall have jurisdiction and authority over all forest land, grazing lands, and all forest reservations including watershed reservations presently administered by other government agencies or instrumentalities.”

One of the formidable issues the DENR is facing even before it began with the mission to rehabilitate Boracay Island is the encroachment of people and structures on its forestlands. Under PD 705, lands classified as forestlands cannot be used if no permit was issued by the DENR.

Presidential Proclamation 1064, signed by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has delineated the island of Boracay into forestland and alienable and disposable (A and D) lands in 2006.

A and D lands are defined as public lands that have “been subject of the present system of classification and declared as not needed for forest purposes,” and can be subject for titling purposes.

PP 1064 has delineated 628.96 hectares or 60.94 percent of the island as alienable and disposable (ownership can be transferable) and the rest as forestland or protected areas.

Boracay Island has a total land area of 1,006.64 hectares. During an inventory conducted in 2018, a total of three hundred thirty-nine (339) illegal structures were found within the forestlands of the island, to wit:

  • Two hundred and twelve (212) commercial structures
  • One hundred seventeen (117) residential structures
  • And, ten (10) others

A joint team composed of NBI-Manila, DENR Region 6, Boracay Inter-agency Rehabilitation and Management Group (BIARMG) and CENRO Boracay, has conducted a joint ocular inspection and investigation on the illegal occupants/structures within classified timberland/forestlands and at the same time, check on their compliance to the issued Notice to Vacate specifically those located at Mt. Luho, Brgy. Balabag, Malay, Aklan, just recently.

DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Livino B. Duran disclosed that back in 2018, the DENR had issued Show Cause Orders (SCOs) and Notice to Vacate to all illegal encroachers found within the forestland areas of the island.

“During the closure of Boracay Island in 2018 which paved the way for the rehabilitation efforts of the government, they were given enough time, years in fact, to vacate the area if they have no legal claim to it,” said RED Duran.

According to Mr. Rizaldy Rivera, Chief Enforcement Division of NBI-Manila, the arrested individuals were found lacking the required legal documents to justify their presence within the contested structure.  Neither land title nor Forest Land Use Agreement for Tourism Purposes (FLAGT) from the DENR were issued to them, thus, they are considered illegal occupants and were immediately arrested.

The NBI led a “warrantless arrest” of a German national Ludwig August Borchers, 69; and Filipinos Dhelmar Evangelio, 29; Gerald Alapag, 29; and Mark Bernard Alcantara, 42. All were charged due to violating Presidential Decree 705 or the “Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines,” with bail set at P36, 000.00 for their temporary liberty.

The four were initially put under the custody of Boracay Police Station and the following day, they were turned-over to Aklan Provincial Prosecutor’s Office for proper disposition of their cases.

On initial report, a total of fourteen (14) establishments are found occupying Timberland/ Forestland Block E located at Mt. Luho, Brgy. Balabag; one establishment in Block B; and two residential establishments located in Manoc-manoc which encroached the 25+5-meter easement. Last year, “warrantless” arrests were also conducted by the NBI together with the BIARMG of the ten (10) structures encroaching the 25+5 beach easement, a blatant violation of Presidential Decree 1067 or Water Code of the Philippines.

Regional Office Legal Division headed by Atty. Noel C. Empleo prepared all the necessary affidavits for filing to the assigned court. As of August 2021, there are sixty-three (63) illegal structures that are still non-compliant to PD705.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu once said “we want to preserve all the good things that resulted from rehabilitation of Boracay, which brought it back as one of the best islands in the world,” thus, this activity.

The Boracay Island Rehabilitation is one of the ten priority programs set by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

The Philippines, touted as the Pearl of the Orient, with more than 111 dialects spoken, is one of the world’s largest archipelago nations, according to United Nations Development Programme (UNDP-PH).

Philippine islands are classified into three main geographical areas – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. Because of its archipelagic nature, the Philippines is a culturally diverse country with unique cultures and ethnicities. With its topography consisting of mountainous terrains, dense forests, plains, and coastal areas, the Philippines is rich in biodiversity. It is considered as one of the mega biodiversity countries in the world with a high percentage of flora and fauna endemism. 

The Philippines’ coastline has a length of more than 18,000 km. with its coastal waters spanning 266,000 sq. km. More than a thousand are coastal municipalities inhabited by millions of people. 

Thus, as way to protect our maritime territories and to spread awareness on its current situation, the observance of Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA MO) was implemented in the Philippines by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 316, issued on Sept. 14, 2017. The decree declares the month of September as the Maritime and Archipelagic Nation Awareness Month (MANA Mo), amending Proclamation no. 176 (S. 1963) to transfer the observance of the Fish Conservation Week from the third week of October to the third week of September of every year. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte declared that International Coastal Clean-up, Fish Observation Week and MANA MO be celebrated together in the month of September.

This year’s theme: “Our Seas, Our Livelihood, Our Heritage: Connecting Lives and Nations”, does not only highlight the nation’s rich maritime history but also recognizes the "importance of fish and other aquatic products to the people's well-being and the country's economy." As we all know, Philippines is surrounded by bodies of water which means people’s livelihood is  mostly depends on water resources.

MANA Mo is also a way for the Department to introduce clean water, enhanced biodiversity conservation and scaling up of coastal and marine ecosystem program which are part of the 10 priority programs of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

The International Coastal Clean-up (ICC) is celebrated yearly by virtue of Proclamation No. 470, s. 2003, observed every third Saturday of September. ICC is part of the global coastal clean-up celebrations. It began more than 30 years ago, when communities and environment activists rallied together with the common goal of cleaning, collecting and documenting the trash littering their coastlines. ICC engaged people to remove trash from the world’s beaches and waterways to free our oceans especially of plastics which pollute the water and marine life.

ICC is the largest volunteer effort for the environment and is participated by over 199 countries. Also, information collected during the activity is used to educate people and create solutions to the problems of solid waste litter in our coastal areas. It is important that we protect our coastal and marine areas as 80% of the more than 100 million Filipinos depend on fish for their protein requirements.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has already put its hand on this matter long before. Since, scaling up coastal and marine ecosystem is one of the priority programs of the Department. The DENR  also finds ways to protect our oceans, disseminate facts about coastal management, causes and effects of ocean pollution and ways to mitigate ocean pollution.

During this pandemic, the number of volunteers is expected to drop due to basic safety protocols. Yes, the DENR Region 6 makes sure that all PENROs and CENROs do their job as to maintaining the cleanliness of their coasts, along with the coastal communities.

PENRO Iloilo Information Officers have already started their action during the recording of the DENR 6 Weekly Radio Program entitles; “Ikaw kag ang Imo Palibot” in partnership with Radyo Pilipinas Iloilo on August 29, 2021. Topic about the International Coastal Clean Up day was already discussed. Other PENROs and CENROs are expected to follow this movement towards a healthier coast.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region VI conducted the Provincial Launching of “Save our Watershed” (SOW), last August 10, 2021 following the national launching that was held in Manila on June 30, 2021. The department envisions to spread the word on how to preserve our natural ecosystems that sustains life for all.  The need to get our acts together to craft strategies to continue with our enterprise development while sustaining the efforts to maintain healthy watersheds.

“Water is important to life and survival. The physical appearance of a watershed dictates the ecosystem services it can provide to sustain socio-economic activities,” RED Duran said. He further added that the protection and conservation of watershed is not just the DENR's mandate and responsibility but also of all stakeholders. He then ends his message by emphasizing: “Sapagkat Ikaw, Ako, Tayo ang Kalikasan.”

In is believed that the watershed management and governing bodies in the covered areas will be more dynamic and will support a wider scale of public campaign. It will also help educate the public on the importance of watersheds and forestlands to promote a healthier biodiversity.

The campaign takes off from the JICA-assisted Forestland Management Project (FMP), a 10-year watershed rehabilitation project (2012-2022) covering Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Cagayan Valley (Region 2), Central Luzon (Region 3), and Western Visayas (Region 6) particularly the Jalaur River Basin. The project aims to strengthen forestland management through collaborative, holistic, comprehensive, and sustainable forestland management strategies. FMP has benefitted around 22 people's organizations (POs) with over 2,000 members covering 13,027 hectares of the watershed in the upland areas of the municipalities of Janiuay, Lambunao, Calinog, all in the Province of Iloilo.

It was further mentioned to provide focus and attention to what matters, like the case of Jalaur River Basin, which supplies water, food and hydropower. The river is a source of irrigation, water supply for domestic use in Iloilo City and its adjacent Municipalities and also the generation of up to 6.6 megawatts electric power supply. A healthy watershed also minimizes health risks by providing clean water to drink, to grow our food and also to provide clean water for plants and wildlife. The more we protect and preserve the nature, the bigger the chance that we benefit from it.

DENR ASEC for Policy, Planning, and Foreign Assisted and Special Projects Marcial C. Amaro Jr., emphasized in his speech, “SOW is a pilot activity for a nationwide program to conserve the watersheds in our country.” He emphasized the importance of watersheds because it saves lives.

To further strengthen their participation and commitment, each have signed their names on the “Wall of Commitment” as a symbol that they are indeed sincere enough to sustain their efforts toward a healthier watersheds.

Saving our watershed is one of the 10 priority projects of DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.