DENR asks candidates for a garbage-free campaign

Trees may not be counted as voters, but they still deserve respect, especially from those seeking elective government positions.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje on Tuesday urged candidates to avoid nailing or tacking posters on trees during the campaign for the 2013 polls. “We are calling on all well-meaning candidates to spare the trees of campaign materials and use only the common poster areas designated by the Commission on Elections,” Paje said in a statement. His appeal came only days after the official campaign period for local elections started March 29. The campaign period for the national polls has meanwhile started since Feb. 12.

Aside from posters, streamers and other campaign paraphernalia should also not be attached to trees, with Paje advising candidates to instead put up poles for these purposes. “We will not get tired of reminding the public that trees are also living creatures; they could get hurt or sick from infection… Worse, they could die if left untreated for a long time,” Paje said. This, as he touted the role of trees in providing oxygen, food and homes for humans and animals, as well as reducing air pollution and soil erosion.

The Environment department has also signed a joint memorandum circular with Comelec and the Interior and Local Government department to ensure propert waste management during the campaign. The document aims to push for candidates’ adherence to Republic Act 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act even during the campaign period. “Through this garbage-free campaign, we hope to minimize and properly manage the volume of garbage from campaign materials during the national and local elections,” Environment Undersecretary Analiza Rebuelta-Teh said.

Sanctions will be imposed against candidates and groups who violate the joint ciruclar, using the penalties provided under the Local Government Code and RA 9003, among others. Civil society, youth groups and private individuals have also been encouraged to report violations to the concerned agencies.

Groups have earlier called on candidates to mount “garbage-free” election campaigns by refraining from using leaflets, pamphlets, posters, stickers, decals, and plastic and tarpaulin streamers.

Politicians have also been urged to immediately conduct cleanup drives for their campaign materials after the May 13 elections. “We also hope that candidates will come up with meaningful platforms integrating sustainable solutions to the chronic garbage, toxic, disaster and livelihood woes facing many of our communities,” EcoWaste Coalition had said.

In Last 2 Years, 20 DENR Workers Were Killed

According to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, 20 of its employees, contractual workers and civil society partners have been killed since 2010. The latest death toll occurred just last Friday in Surigao del Sur, the ground zero for illegal logging in the Philippines.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje identified the latest casualties as Rolando Intas, 57, and Wilner Pelos Colorita, 52, who were both gunned down by an unknown assailant. Paje said they were forest protection officers, who work for a forest cooperative in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Caraga Regional Director Nonito Tamayo said the two men worked closely with the DENR. A few days before they were killed, they intercepted and confiscated 1,000 board feet of hardwood lumber that were illegally harvested from their forest land.

“They were killed in the market by a lone unknown assailant. One of them died on the spot, while the other died on arrival at the hospital,” Tamayo said.

Before 2010, there were instances of violence against DENR workers, but they were not as severe nor as brazen. In 2009, one DENR employee was killed while at work and he died because of natural causes, DENR records show. In 2008, six died while on official duty, including a forest ranger gunned down at a checkpoint.

Alyansa Tigil Mina and Kalikasan People’s Network said 17 environmental activists had been killed under the Aquino administration. Since 2001, there had been 58 killings, the groups said.

“If the figures from DENR Secretary Paje are accurate … that is extremely alarming,” Carlos Conde of Human Rights Watch told the INQUIRER.

“These killings are all the more alarming in the context of the Aquino government’s determined push for more investments in mining. Without the necessary safeguards in place to protect DENR employees and environment advocates, we are afraid that these killings will continue,” he added.

Overpopulation: Another cause of flood on Metro Manila

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) indicated that overpopulation is the primary cause of flooding in Metro Manila.

“Ang pinaka-kalaban natin ay population. Habang dumadami ang population, nag-e-encroach sa waterways. Inagawan natin yung tubig ng pupuntahan niya. Tapos ‘pag may namatay na tao, sisihin natin yung ulan,” DENR MGB director Leo Nazareno said.

From an interview with Maki Pulido of GMA News’ “24 Oras,” DENR MGB director Leo Nazareno said that natural waterways can cope with the volume of heavy rainfall but the draining of floodwaters is impeded.

Small houses in Metro Manila are increasing due to the growing population in the community. The DENR Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) said that these houses are blocking the way of the natural flow of rivers and streams.

Jasareno explained how the Pasig River is unable to serve its function as the outlet of excess water from the Laguna Lake to Manila Bay. Rivers have drainage and its path so that it will not overflow but drainage that are unclogged and houses that blocks the path of the river makes flood water to rise in places like Pasig City, Marikina, Pateros, Muntinlupa, Taguig and Parañaque.

“Kasi ang Marikina River, pupunta ng Laguna Lake. And then yung Laguna Lake, pupunta ng Pasig River. So, kung barado ang Pasig River, tataas ang tubig sa Laguna Lake. ‘Yung Marikina River, tataas din,” Nasareno said.

Nazareno suggests that aside from dredging another effective solution is the relocation of squatters who populate areas at and near Pasig river and other major waterways. —AY/ELR/VS, GMA News

DENR vows tight watch over P6.2-B Bicol coal project

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Tuesday vowed to scrutinize the controversial P6.2-billion coal mining project in Catanduanes province in the Bicol Region.

In a radio interview, Environment Secretary Jose “Lito” Atienza Jr. said the project still needs DENR clearance even if the Department of Energy (DOE) might have cleared the venture.

“Hindi pa dumadaan sa tanggapan ko ito, ‘di ko alam ang nature ng coal project at ‘di pa ito kumukuha ng environmental clearance (This has not passed through my office. I do not know the nature of this coal project. It has not obtained DENR’s environment clearance),” Atienza said in an interview on dzXL radio.

Read more…

All systems go for Pacquiao’s Metro Manila victory parade

(Updated 9:38 a.m.) MANILA, Philippines – After a three-day delay due to typhoon “Emong,” it was all systems go Monday for the victory motorcade of Filipino boxing icon Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao in Metro Manila.

Radio dzBB’s Allan Gatus reported that a float that was to carry Pacquiao was adorned with 15 Philippine flags and posters bearing Pacquiao slogans.

Read more..

Hundreds of dolphins invade Bataan shores

MANILA, Philippines – Three of the more than 300 melon-headed dolphins that “invaded” the waters off Pilar town in Bataan early yesterday have drowned. Locals believe they were trapped in fishing nets near the coast.

Dr. Mundita Lim, director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), said veterinarians from the Ocean Adventure in Subic Freeport and the bureau conducted an initial necropsy on the remains of the three animals.

The doctors determined that the marine mammals might have drowned after failing to extricate themselves from the fishing nets or baklad. [Read full article...]