English ArticlesCimatu calls to end impunity for crimes against environment
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on Sunday called for an end to impunity for crimes against environment during the national celebration of Earth Day held in Manila.
With theme: Green the Cities, Green the Oceans, this year’s Earth Day celebration was organized jointly by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Earth Day Network Philippines.
In his State of the Environment Address, read by DENR Undersecretary and Chief of Staff Rodolfo C. Garcia, Cimatu urged Filipinos not to tolerate environmental abuse and help fill the gap in the enforcement of laws on environmental protection.
“We must cease being tolerant of environmental abuse, and take active part in the strict enforcement of environmental laws, rules, regulations and ordinances,” Cimatu said.
He also said the government needs the direct participation of the citizenry in accelerating reforestation, coastal cleanups, conserving energy and popularizing lifestyles that will enable the country reduce its carbon footprint and enhance its resilience.
According to Cimatu, environmental abuse persists because there are people who allow, if not encourage, “irresponsibility to proceed with impunity.”
He cited as a classic example the case of Boracay, which had to be closed down temporarily to allow authorities to fix the environmental problems that have gone unnoticed and unresolved until they exploded into a major crisis this year.
For more than a decade, Cimatu said the DENR had been issuing warnings about the coliform contamination of Boracay’s waters, caused mainly by domestic and commercial wastes being discharged directly into the sea.
“If we had been warning about Boracay for over a decade now, why were our warnings not heeded?” Cimatu asked. “If the Philippines has been celebrating Earth Day since 1990, or for 28 years now, why do the environmental problems plaguing Boracay and other areas persist?”
He nevertheless assured that the Duterte administration will do everything to save Boracay from further destruction. “We will not stop until we make Boracay a livable community,” he said.
The environment chief said the DENR will make sure Boracay waters will pass the international water quality standards and that solid wastes are properly managed in the area.
Meanwhile, Cimatu said the DENR will not allow the Boracay crisis to overshadow its accomplishments for 2017.
Cimatu described 2017 as the year when the DENR was not content to merely meet targets. “We exceeded them on many fronts,” he said.
Topping the DENR’s 2017 major accomplishments was its performance in solid waste management where the target was to assist 233 local government units (LGUs) on the proper closure and rehabilitation of open and controlled dumpsites within water quality management areas and the Manila Bay region, he said.
Second in the DENR’s list of accomplishments was the 135 percent output in the management and protection of protected areas and in ecotourism development.
Cimatu noted that the various Protected Area Management Boards approved a total of 997 resolutions, or 261 more than the target of 736.
He also reported that the completion rates of protected areas managed and protected, blue and green brigades and volunteers engaged, and ecotourism facilities maintained and rehabilitated, were 100, 108 and 103 percent, respectively.
The government’s flagship National Greening Program (NGP) also exceeded its 2017 target of 200,000 by 5 percent with a total of 200,544 hectares planted with over 177 million seedlings.
This raised to 1,862,773 hectares the total NGP-covered areas as of Dec. 31, 2017 since the program started in 2011, according to Cimatu.
In 2017, Cimatu said the DENR became more aggressive in forest protection with the confiscation of 2.1 million board feet of illegally cut or processed logs nationwide, bringing to 38.4 million board feet the total number of confiscated forest products since 2011. He said a total of 222 cases were filed in court against the violators, with 16 individuals convicted.
The DENR also hired 1,897 forest protection officers and erected 61 forest ranger stations and lookout towers. It also adopted and implemented the Lawin Forest and Biodiversity Protection System as a strategy to protect forests and biodiversity from pests and diseases, landslides and mudslides, invasive species, fire and typhoons, among others.
Cimatu also reported the accomplishments in other programs, such as geohazard assessment and responsible mining, clean air, clean water, and land management. DMS