environment

DENR inks new CNA with employees

August 2, 2019

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Kalipunan ng mga Kawani ng Kagawaran ng Kalikasan (K4) recently signed a new Collective Negotiation Agreement (CNA) providing for additional benefits to DENR workers for the next three years.      K4, which has a total of 16 regional chapters nationwide, is duly accredited by the Civil Service Commission and has been recognized as the sole and exclusive negotiating representative of all DENR rank-and-file employees for almost one decade already.      The CNA was signed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and K4 national president Jose Isidro Michael Padin during the celebration of the DENR’s 32nd founding anniversary last June 14. It was the second CNA signed between DENR and K4.      Cimatu said he was honored the new DENR-K4 deal was signed under his watch even as vowed for “continued harmonious relationship between the union and the management.”      “This CNA is a recognition of the fact that the DENR’s strength relies on the unity and well-being of its workers,” Cimatu pointed out.      The DENR chief also thanked the K4 officers and members of the Board of Directors who helped make the CNA signing possible.      Under the new CNA, the DENR and K4 agreed to extend mutual cooperation and assistance to each other “with the end in view of improving the welfare and well-being of the workers.”      At least four new employees’ benefits have been added in the agreement, which will take effect until June 2022.      These benefits include provision of hazard pay and accident insurance, establishment of a wellness program, and formulation of a comprehensive health insurance.      Those covered by hazard pay and accident insurance are workers engaged in law enforcement activities against illegal logging, mining, and illegal trade and poaching of wildlife species.      The wellness program includes provision of free maintenance medicine for, but not limited to, cardiovascular diseases and hypertension.      It also includes annual medical, optical and dental examination; stress management program; and immunization and screening for tuberculosis and Hepatitis B.      The CNA also calls for formulation of a comprehensive health insurance for workers in addition to the benefits available under the Employees Compensation Commission, the PhilHealth Insurance Program, and other applicable programs and policies of the government.      The CNA was a product of a month-long negotiation, which ended last June 7. The final agreement was presented to the DENR Executive Committee on June 10 or four days before the actual signing.

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Cimatu calls for convergence to fight invasive alien species in Asia-Pacific

July 26, 2019

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has called on experts and researchers in the Asia-Pacific region to work together in coming up with research-based solutions that would reduce the negative impact of invasive alien species (IAS) to biodiversity and the environment in general.      “I stand firm in promoting convergence of our research and development (R&D) efforts for a sustainable region-wide management of (IAS),” Cimatu said as he welcomed the delegates to the international conference on IAS management that took place in Manila from July 9 to 11.      “Let us continue with our pursuit for research-driven strategies and policies to effectively manage and conserve biodiversity for the good of humankind,” he added.      The three-day event called “IAS Conference 2019” has brought together IAS experts, researchers, dialogue partners, environment managers and other stakeholders from the Asia-Pacific region.      In his keynote speech read by DENR OIC Assistant Secretary for Staff Bureaus and concurrent Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Ricardo Calderon, Cimatu underscored the need for a collective effort to tackle IAS that has been “invading and destroying nature’s ecological balance.”      “These IAS pose serious environmental concerns and are among the major threats to biodiversity,” Cimatu pointed out. “They cover a wide gamut of ecosystems from the terrestrial to aquatic environments, irreversibly impacting on biodiversity, agriculture, as well as food and water security.”      IAS are plants, animals, pathogens and other organisms that are non-native to an ecosystem, and which may cause economic or environmental harm or adversely affect human health.      The International Union for Conservation of Nature defines IAS as species whose introduction and spread from their place of origin threaten biological diversity. They are the second biggest cause of biodiversity loss all over the world, next only to habitat destruction.      Except for Antartica and the glaciated Greenland, the IAS affected 17 percent of the global land area which are highly predisposed to their infestation.      These environmental villains are found in many countries in Asia and the Pacific, including the Philippines, assailing the region’s key terrestrial, wetland, coastal, marine and estuarine ecosystems.      In agriculture, the IAS broadly applies to any non-indigenous weeds, pest, insects and other disease-causing agents that disrupt crop and livestock, among others.      In the freshwater environment, one common invasive species is the carp that originated from Europe but has insidiously multiplied and is now found in almost all parts of the globe. This alien invader is classified as the most invasive in the world, damaging marine life.      Among the most infamous IAS in the Philippines are the American bullfrog and the golden apple snail or golden kuhol, which have displaced indigenous species in natural habitats.      The IAS conference was organized by the DENR’s Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB) and funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs.      According to ERDB Director Sofio Quintana, the conference served as an avenue to the technical experts to verify the list of IAS, including their potential threats and impacts.      The eradication of IAS, he said, was in line with “Target 9 of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets under the Convention on Biological Diversity.”      Aside from the Philippines, other Asia-Pacific nations that presented their research papers during the conference were India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Trinidad and Tobago, United Arab Emirates, United States and Vietnam.      The Philippines was represented by experts from the DENR-BMB, University of the Philippines-Los Baños, ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, and Food and Agriculture Organization-Philippines, among others.

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PRRD orders LGUs to enforce environmental laws

July 26, 2019

President Rodrigo Duterte has called for more local political will and action that will prevent further environmental degradation in the country. He ordered the local government units (LGUs) nationwide to prevent such degradation so their constituents can enjoy a healthy ecology.      "Take extra steps in enforcement of laws and protection of our environment," he told LGUs Monday during his 4th State of the Nation Address (SONA) at Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.      The President gave the order, noting political will and action are fueling the rehabilitation which the government launched last year to address the environmental mess in world-famous tourist destination Boracay Island.      On-going rehabilitation of Boracay is helping restore this island to its near-original state, he said, noting that its rehabilitation is a "huge success".      He lauded the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its partner agencies for taking up the challenge to save the island.      Among environmental woes which the rehabilitation sought to address are water pollution, solid waste accumulation and encroachment in Boracay's wetlands.      "Boracay Island is just the beginning," Duterte said.      While continuing the work in Boracay, the government this year further stepped up its environmental protection campaign by mounting the high-profile rehabilitation of historic Manila Bay.      DENR is leading the multi-sector rehabilitation so Manila Bay can be fit again for swimming and other forms of contact recreation as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2008.      Data raised urgency for the Bay's rehabilitation.      According to DENR, decades-long flow of solid waste and untreated discharges into Manila Bay raised level of coliform bacteria there to over 330 million MPN (most probable number) per 100 milliliters – surpassing the level in Boracay Island.      The safe coliform level is 100 MPN per 100 milliliters only, noted DENR.      Cleaning up Manila Bay and its tributaries, relocating informal settlers there and educating the public on solid waste management are main activities for the rehabilitation.      Aside from Boracay Island and Manila Bay, Baguio City and other tourist areas in the country are also sites of rehabilitation work to prevent further environmental degradation there.      Duterte also reiterated his warning against corruption in government.      "There is no sacred cow in my administration," he said.      He recalled the sacking, without regard for either friendship or alliance, of over 100 public officials implicated in corruption. (PNA)

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Rains fail to raise Angat Dam's water level

June 3, 2019

CITY OF MALOLOS, Bulacan -- Despite the mild to strong rains being experienced in the late afternoon and early evening in Bulacan in the past days, the water elevation at Angat Dam continues to drop.      Data from the Provincial Public Affairs Office (PPAO) of Bulacan showed that the water elevation at Angat dam went down to 169.37 meters on Friday, which is more than 10 meters short of the required minimum operating level of 180 meters.      PPAO head Maricel Cruz said that since last week, the dam’s water level is slightly falling amid rains the past days.      From the dam’s water level at 170.70 meters on Saturday, it slightly went down to 170.49 meters on Sunday. It dropped further to 170.19 meters Monday, 169.88 Tuesday and 169.79 meters Wednesday, and 169.63 meters Thursday.      The water level at Angat Dam breached its critical water level of 180 meters when it reached 179.97 meters last April 28. Since then, the dam’s water level continues to plunge.      Meanwhile, in an attempt to increase the water level in the dam, the National Water Resources Board temporarily cut irrigation supply to palay farmlands in Bulacan and Pampanga since May 16.      The Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has also started its cloud seeding operations over the dams in this province last May 13 to create artificial rain that could increase the water level in the facilities.      Angat Dam supplies 97 percent of potable water to Metro Manila residents.      The lowest level recorded was in July 2010 when Angat’s water dipped to 157.55 meters. (PNA)

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Asia's glaciers provide buffer against drought

June 3, 2019

A new study to assess the contribution that Asia's high mountain glaciers make to relieving water stress in the region is published 29 May 2019 in the journal Nature. The study has important economic and social implications for a region that is vulnerable to drought. Climate change is causing most of the region's glaciers to shrink.      British Antarctic Survey (BAS) glaciologist Dr Hamish Pritchard found that during droughts, glaciers become the largest supplier of water to some of Asia's major river basins. This melt-water is important for the people living downstream when the rains fail and water shortages are at their worst.      Each summer, glaciers release 36 cubic kilometres of water -- equivalent to 14 million Olympic swimming pools -- to these rivers. This is enough water to fulfil the basic needs of 221 million people, or most of the annual municipal and industrial needs of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.      This supply is unsustainable, though, because climate change is causing the region's glaciers to lose 1.6 times more water than they gain each year from new snowfall.      The high-mountain region of Asia, known as the Third Pole, encompasses the Himalayas, Karakoram, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Tien Shan, Kunlun Shan and Alai mountains and has 95,000 glaciers in total. About 800 million people are partly dependent on their meltwater.      Dr Pritchard analysed estimates of the glacier contribution with the amount of precipitation in average years and in drought years. He used climate datasets and hydrological modelling to calculate the volume of glacier water entering and leaving the region's major river basins.      Dr Pritchard says: "This study is about answering the question -- why do glaciers matter? Even in high-mountain Asia, they are remote and cover quite a small part of the region. It turns out that they are particularly valuable to society as a natural store of water that keeps the rivers flowing through summer, even through long droughts.      "Against a background of increasing drought-related water and food shortages and malnutrition, which have been predicted with high confidence for the coming decades, Asia's glaciers will play an increasingly important part in protecting downstream populations from drought-induced spikes in water stress -- spikes that, without mitigating changes in the way water is stored and used, are the potential trigger for a sudden jump in the price of water that could be profoundly destabilising for this region."      The research paper "Asia's shrinking glaciers protect large populations from drought stress" by Hamish D. Pritchard is this week in Nature.      This research paper was published originally in 2017 but was retracted when a reader pointed out an error. Consequently, Dr Pritchard re-worked his modelling afresh.      An editorial appears in the same issue of Nature.

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DENR, Pangilinan-led MPIC team up to rehabilitate 20 dirtiest esteros in Manila

June 3, 2019

Efforts to rehabilitate Manila Bay and its tributaries received another much-needed boost after the Manuel Pangilinan-led Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) committed to clean up Manila’s filthiest esteros that flow into Pasig River and ultimately into Manila Bay.      The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently forged a five-year partnership deal with MPIC for the cleanup of 20 dirtiest esteros that drain into Pasig River, under the DENR’s Adopt-an-Estero/Water Body program.      The water bodies covered by the DENR-MPIC accord are Esteros de Vitas, San Lazaro, Kabulusan, Magdalena, Binondo, Dela Reina, Sampaloc, San Sebastian, San Miguel, Valencia, Uli-uli, Paco, Pandacan, Tanque, Balete, Provisor, Concordia, Sunog Apog, San Antonio Abad and Quiapo.      The partnership was sealed through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu and MPIC president and CEO Jose Ma. Lim.      According to Cimatu, the DENR-MPIC collaboration is a continuation of the battle cry for Pasig River: “rehabilitating a river, restoring life and reviving the pride.”      “Together, we will continue to clean every estero, assess their water quality and identify sources of pollution,” Cimatu said during the MOU signing held at the DENR central office in Quezon City.      “We will take appropriate actions against establishments discharging untreated wastewater to prevent them from further poisoning these waterways,” he added.      For his part, Lim assured that the MPIC—through its subsidiary Maynilad Water Services Inc.—“remains fully committed to protecting the environment.”      “Upon acknowledging the objective of the DENR to promote stewardship among the private sector, MPIC is set to assist government agencies in improving the water quality parameters of the country’s water bodies,” Lim added.      Under the MOU, the MPIC agreed not only to fund the rehabilitation and water quality assessment of the adopted esteros, but also spearhead the mobilization of neighboring schools and communities for the cleanup activities.      The diversified conglomerate also assured that Maynilad will fast-track the rehabilitation of its sewer lines, intensify the connection of domestic and non-domestic customers to the existing sewerage network, install collector pipes and easements, and conduct information and education campaigns related to proper wastewater treatment and disposal.      The DENR, on the other hand, will provide the MPIC with all the relevant data for the conduct of the water quality assessment study, issue the necessary permits and approvals to enable the MPIC and Maynilad to perform their responsibilities, and take appropriate action against violators within the adopted esteros.      Established in 2010, the Adopt-an-Estero/Water Body is a flagship program of the DENR in response to the continuing mandamus of the Supreme Court for all concerned agencies to clean up Manila Bay, including all waterways that drain into it.      The program, which was eventually replicated in other parts of the country, is a collaborative undertaking among the estero community, the donor-partner, concerned local government units, the DENR and other government agencies.

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