Press Releases

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has announced the temporary suspension of all dragon boat race activities in Boracay in the wake of a deadly accident that claimed the lives of seven members of a local-based dragon boat group.

Cimatu, who chairs the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), said that such activities are “postponed for the time being until emergency protocols are thoroughly scrutinized.”

“We are temporarily suspending all dragon boat race activities in Boracay, including practice and training, until we have assessed their practice protocols,” Cimatu said.

All agencies involved in emergency rescue and response are scheduled to meet on Monday, Sept. 30 to conduct a comprehensive assessment of protocols, logistics and resources, and to come up with recommendations to address gaps subject to the approval of the BIATF.

These agencies include the local government of Malay and its Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, Philippine National Police Maritime Group, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Tourism, the local dragon boat associations and other water sports associations in the Philippines.

On Sept. 25, seven members of the Boracay Dragon Force died, while 14 others were injured when the boat they were rowing capsized off Boracay Island. The group was then training for an upcoming international competition in Taiwan.

Upon learning of the incident, Cimatu expressed his sympathy to the victims and their families, as he promised that emergency response programs will be strengthened in Boracay to prevent a similar incident in the future.

According to reports, the boat capsized after it was hit by large swells of waves originating from the sudden violent gusts of wind before the dragon boat racers reached the third bay of Tulubhan Beach in Barangay Manocmanoc.

Members of the team were not wearing life vests during that time, while one of the paddlers did not know how to swim, the reports added.

The local government of Malay, Aklan and partner agencies have extended their support to the bereaved families by offering them services, such as financial assistance, stress debriefing, cadaver management, and security. ###

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said emergency response programs will be strengthened in Boracay Island to prevent another tragedy similar to the death of members of the Boracay Dragon Team.

“The Boracay Inter-agency Task Force (BIATF) is saddened by this tragedy and sympathizes with the families of all casualties. The task force will work with the local government units and other authorities to extend assistance to all affected by this unfortunate incident,” Cimatu said.

Cimatu assured that the BIATF Field Office “will work on a comprehensive emergency response program and shall recommend it to the principals of the task force.”

The BIATF is chaired by Cimatu and co-chaired by Interior and Local Government Secretary Eduardo Año and Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.

“The program will consider the provision of necessary protocols, logistics, and resources for an effective emergency rescue and response in the island,” Cimatu said.

The local municipality of Malay in Aklan also responded to the aid of the victims and their families by activating their Incident Command System, with the departments and agencies providing their services such as cadaver management from the Municipal Health Office; family assistance and stress debriefing from the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office and Red Cross; and security from the Philippine Coast Guard and the maritime arm of the Philippine National Police.

A boat carrying 20 paddlers and one steersman of the Boracay Dragon Team overturned amid rowing from the Bulabog Beach to the White Beach of Boracay Island on the morning of Wednesday, September 25, 2019.

Seven paddlers were declared dead on arrival (DOA) after being taken to the hospital, namely: Mark Vincent Navarete, Omar Arcob, Maricel Tan, Yohan Tan, Richel Montoya, Antonette Supranes, and John Vincent Natividad.

Another paddler, Von Navarossa, was brought to Kalibo Hospital.

The survivors were Mark Baccay, Jaylord Violanda, Robel Licerio, Marc Sabado, Oathleen Sabado, Kenneth Bandalan, Julia Kurbaniizova, Maggie Xie, Xhen Autona, Lani Ordas, Janice Lumbo, Jao Buenaventura, and Edwin Paradas.

According to reports, the Boracay Dragon Boat Team was training for weeks at Bulabog Beach in Barangay Balabag but transferred to the White Beach because the winds changed from southwest monsoon (habagat) to northeast monsoon (amihan) three days ago.

While paddling, the team encountered a sudden violent gust of wind before they reached the third bay of Tulubhan Beach in SitioTulubhan in Manocmanoc, Boracay Island. Waves started to swell and then hit the boat. Water filled the boat before it capsized.

The group has been practicing for weeks in the famous tourist destination for an international competition before the accident. ###



Cases of African Swine Flu (ASF) continues to soar in the past months in the country, putting challenges not just to food security but also to the implementation of the Ecological Solid Waste Management or Republic Act 9003.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has conducted a study/analysis and determined that one of the causes of the ASF in the country is the improper disposal of food wastes which are being reused in piggeries, feeding it to livestock or pigs.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said that it is the responsibility of all local government units to see to it that all wastes, including biodegradables and food wastes, be properly disposed.

Thus, he directed all DENR regional offices and EMB regional offices to issue an advisory to all local government units on the need to strictly comply with the provisions of RA 9003 by properly addressing both residual and biodegradable wastes in their area of jurisdictions, where food waste collection should be done by the local government units.

Secretary Cimatu also emphasized that the direct collection of food wastes by private individuals from food establishments should be strictly not allowed.

In line with this, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Philippines further heightened its post-marketing surveillance. Audit is being conducted on all concerned and covered establishments to ensure full compliance with the FDA order, at the same time, to hold violators liable under Republic Act 9711 (Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009), Republic Act 10611 (Food Safety Act of 2013) and other pertinent laws, all in the interest of protecting public health and safety.

The ASF is a viral disease that is contagious to animals but not in humans, has no treatment and vaccination, and no known cure, and could put the swine industry at risk, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 is one of the major priority programs of Environmental Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, highlighting the proper solid waste disposal and management of the Materials Recovery Facility.


refo program

TRANSFORMATION. Former rebel combatants of RPA-ABB-TPG turned into forest managers and are engaged in tree seedlings production activities in the province of Aklan (inset photo); President Rodrigo Roa Duterte led the decommissioning of the more than 300 firearmssurrendered by the former rebels on September 19, 2019 at the 3ID, PA, Camp Peralta, Jamindan, Capiz (above photo); DENR 6 RED Francisco E. Milla looks at the surrendered firearms prior to the start of the program at Camp Peralta (bottom photo).



The recent decommissioning of firearms of former combatants of the Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade–Tabara-Paduano Group (RPM-P/RPA/ABB-TPG) was a long, tedious work and a collaboration of efforts from different national government agencies.

As former rebel combatants, they were always on the run for their lives. But finally they got tired, and had a peace talk with the government. The Office of the Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) listened to the plea and had embraced them through the PAMANA Program. An acronym for PAyapa at MAsaganang PamayaNAn, PAMANA began in 2012 with eleven national government agenciesimplementing the program.

One of the elevenis the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) who had made socio-economic interventions in pursuing the peace process with the former rebel combatants of the RPM-P/RPA/ABB/TPG.

Here in Western Visayas, the DENR implemented PAMANA program by hiring members of the former rebel combatants to work as Forest Guards (FGs) in reforestation project specifically in National Greening Program (NGP) sites. The DENR 6 worked real hard to grant them their Peace and Development Communities (PDC) sites and provided sustainable livelihood in contracting them under the NGP.

From being society’s menace, they become some of the most productive citizens of this country. How did that happen?

As DENR–PAMANA beneficiaries in the province of Antique province, twenty two (22) of them were hired and worked as staunch forest guards, whose presence had proved to be a strong deterrence to illegal tree cutters in the towns of Culasi and Belison. Their presence thereby helped protect and conserve the province’s natural resources.

Since becoming beneficiaries in 2014in Aklan province, the group had produced a total of 390,390 seedlings. The group, now known as Kapatiran para sa Progresibong Panlipunan, Inc. as part of their institutional transformation, had signed a total contract cost worth Php 6,214,970.00 since 2014 up to the present. They maintain plantation in three upland sites namely: in Ibajay, Tangalan and Nabas, and has planted commodities ranging from timber and indigenous tree species to agroforestry and high value crops.

A total of 57.51 hectares of land situated in the town of Ibajay now served as their PDC site or settlement area. It was made possible through the tenurial instrument called Community-Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) which was awarded to them on April 25, 2018. The CBFMA is an agreement between DENR and Kapatiran which allows them to develop, utilize, manage and conserve a specific portion of the forestland consistent with the principles of sustainable development.

In Negros Occidental, they were granted their settlement areas which are also covered by the CBFMA and are located in Kabankalan City with an area of 179.64 hectare (ha.) and with 80 beneficiaries; Cadiz City, 232 ha., with 73 beneficiaries; and San Carlos City, 230 ha. with 180 beneficiaries. Last November 2018, the Negros group was able to produce 112,000 seedlings and continued maintaining and protecting 225 hectares of forestlands. Under the PAMANA–NGP, they were able to establish plantations with a total of 540 hectares in the hinterlands of Cadiz and Kabankalan. They are also instrumental in assisting DENR forest rangers in their LAWIN foot patrol and in law enforcement activities.

After years of returning to the fold of the law, their efforts are paying off. The decommissioning of their more than 300 firearms last September 19, 2019 at the 3ID, Camp Peralta in Jamindan, Capiz was a step closer to the completion of the peace pact. As the struggle continues, the DENR and all other national government agencies will continue to work for these former rebels to attain the peace and development they too deserve – for them and their families.

“With your PDC sites, we will help you build your community. Now you can live in peace among one another and start your economic activities. We wanted you to pursue sustainable development while we also ensure your safety,” said Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, who is also the Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security (CORDS) for Western Visayas.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) has issued an interim Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to BoracayTubi Systems, Inc. (BTSI) for discharging wastewaterthat tested positive for fecal coliform in the waters of Boracay Island.

The wastewater discharge was traced from BTSI’s one (1) kilometer outfall pipe from Lugutan area in BrgyManoc-Manoc in the island to Sibuyan Sea. Sinkers were placed on the outfall pipe to secure it and prevent it from floating. It was found to be almost 13 kilometers below the water surface.

The interim CDO was issued on Sept. 21,2019 by EMB Western Visayas Regional Director Atty. RamarNiel V. Pascua and shall be effective for seven (7) days unless confirmed by the Pollution Adjudication Board in such case it shall become a regular CDO.

“I have made it clear from Day 1 that no one is above the law,” said Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu adding that,“all environmental laws have to be strictly enforced because their primary purpose is to protect our environment and natural resources.”

“We will appropriately deal with the people responsible for this violation,” stressed Cimatu who is chair of the Boracay Inter-agency Task Force created by President Rodrigo RoaDutertethrough Executive Order 53 to reverse the degradation of Boracay Island.

In an inspection conducted by personnel of EMB, an outfall pipe was seen to be discharging a large volume of yellowish water.

Laboratory Analysis results revealed that fecal coliform and phosphate from the water sample and residue taken have exceeded the General Effluent Standards maximum allowable limit for Class SC marine water body per DENR Administrative Order No. 2016-08 or the Water Quality Guidelines and Effluent Standards of 2016.

The sample collected had a fecal coliform of 3,500 most probable number per 100 ml (MPN/100ml) against an effluent standard for Class SC water of 400 MPN/100ml. On the other hand, Phosphate was at 2.250 mg P/L against the standard of one (1) mg P/L level.

Earlier, a video of a pawikanor sea turtle sticking its head into the pipe outlet was posted in social media by a Korean diving instructor.

On August 14, 2019, DENR Secretary Roy A.Cimatu gave instructions to cordon off the beachfront area in Station 1 after two female foreign nationals—one allowing child to defecate in Boracay’s waters and the other burying a used diaper in the white sand – also circulated on social media.

BoracayIsland was ordered closed by President Rodrigo RoaDuterte in April 2018 after he described its water as a cesspool. The famous island reopened in October 2018 after a six-month rehabilitation.

Boracy Island is surrounded by Sibuyan Sea in the east and Sulu Sea in the west.

BTSI is one of the two water utility companies in Boracay Island. ###