denr

Aquino launches national greening program

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) - President Benigno Aquino III launched yesterday the National Greening Program (NGP) that aims to recover the country’s depleting forest areas and ensure self-sufficiency in its timber needs.

The launching of the program at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was in relation to an executive order that Aquino issued earlier this year for a nationwide reforestation initiative.

The President issued Executive Order 26 in February this year designating the DENR as the leading agency in carrying out the program in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Agrarian Reform.

In his speech at the launch of the NGP, the President called on the people to join him in the greening program saying that the country is now starting to realize its dreams for the benefit of the Filipinos.

Under the NGP, the government targets to plant 1.5 billion trees covering about 1.5 million hectares of lands in public domain from 2011 to 2016. The government expects the program could double the efforts achieved in the last 25 years.

For 2011, the government targets to reforest 100,000 hectares of land under the NGP and increase it to 200,000 hectares for 2012. The coverage will then be increased to 300,000 hectares in the succeeding years until 2016.

Caloocan judge sentences 3 men for polluting canal

SCORE one for the environment.

Caloocan Regional Trial Court Branch 27 Judge Victoriano Cabanos sentenced Allan Lumanog, Ariel Olaje, and Arwin Reyes to jail terms of six to 10 years after they were caught dumping liquid waste into a canal in Bagong Silang, Caloocan City.

The three were caught red-handed by officials of Barangay Bagong Silang emptying the contents of 46 plastic containers, which were found to be liquid waste containing high concentrations of copper and zinc.

Such compounds are classified as hazardous waste under DENR Administrative Order 2004-36.

Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje also hailed the court’s decision. “This comes at a time when the government is aggressively pushing for partnerships with the private sector and local governments in cleaning our waterways, and shows how serious we are in going after violators of pollution laws,” he said.

The barangay officials were acting on complaints from residents about a foul smell in their area. The officials were able to trace the smell to a house with an open canal connected to a nearby creek.

indyweek.com
North Carolina and the "total surrender and collapse" of its $7 million coal ash deal with Duke Energy
The Southern Environmental Law Center, which has led coal ash clean-up litigation, shreds state regulators' pact with Duke Energy.

Excerpt:

Holleman compared the surprise settlement, which you can read in its entirety here, to an agreement DENR struck with Duke in 2013, prior to the Dan River spill, in which the company agreed to allow the billion-dollar energy giant to pay a comparatively mild $99,000 fine for coal ash pollution while not requiring any clean-up. DENR dropped that deal after the Dan River spill provoked a public uproar on coal ash.

“This was all done in the dark of the night, privately, without any sunshine whatsoever,” Holleman said of this week’s deal.

Mineral Theft

I read with interest the article of two people arrested and charged with mineral theft in Eastern Samar.

This kind of thing is rampant all over the Philippines so the question is why is the DENR not applying the law equally all over the country?

You could go to virtually any province in the Philippines and find people stockpiling Chromite, Copper, Manganese and other ores without having any permits to mine, haul or trade in minerals.

If would be so simple for the DENR to act nationwide and stamp out the illegal mining activities, but in reality the DENR and MGB more than turn a blind eye to what is going on, but are aiding and abetting the illegal activities.

You might think that is a strong statement but in reality with small scale mining activities it is supposedly regulated through the Provincial Mining Regulatory Board’s of each province.

These boards comprise of members of the MGB and DENR amongst others, so whatever OTP’s (Ore Transport Permits) are issued, they are issued through the respective PMRB offices and in turn, after the PMRB has issued an order of payment then the respective Governor will sign off on the OTP.

As you drive through the country through most provinces you will notice multiple DENR check points, so how does this stock measuring in the hundreds and even thousands of tons pass these check-points?

The answer is the only permit that is needed has a special name in the Philippines, called SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) meaning the truck driver as they go past will usually drop the DENR patrol staff 500-1000 peso per truck.

You may ask how can this mining activity up in the mountain get past the Barangay Captain and local officials, well of course it can not but once again the magical SOP permits you to actively mine illegally in the area so long as when you haul the SOP is there.

In any province the PMRB is well aware of the existing small scale mining permits, however the source of the stock is often not from the site of the mining permit itself. 

However what usually happens the Governor of that province tends to restrict the quantity of approved SSMP’s to only a few, which inevitably are for people who are close to him, then the illegal mining is encouraged through the whole province.

The reason for this is the illegal miners are now forced to “lean-on” the existing mining permits.  The illegal miners are free to sell to whom they wish however to obtain an OTP requires them to course the documentation through one of the approved SSMP’s and then pay an SOP to the claimant for using their permits.

This SOP is typically an un-receipted  amount usually between 2-4 peso’s a kilo, depending on the ore and the province and from this amount the permitee would normally receive one peso a kilo whilst the balance is paid direct to the Governor and the PMRB members who keep the system running.

This obviously includes the DENR and MGB members of the PMRB so you may ask what happened in Eastern Samar for these two to get caught?  Well I can’t say I have had personal experience in Eastern Samar,  although I am often offered stock for sale from there, but I would dare to say the two who were stopped were probably stepping on the toes of other “protected” buyers.

Let me elaborate often not only is the issuance of permits restricted but also the people who can go buy “direct” from the (illegal) source.  Say for instance you find out that the actual people who are doing the hard work of extracting the minerals are really getting under-paid meaning they might earn only 2 peso per kilo, but the “protected” buyer wants to sell it to the international traders for 20 peso a kilo, now should that international trader (or the Filipino people they employ) want to go direct to the source and offer them say 10 peso per kilo, well this is very frowned upon.  So there you have it… the source of the complaint against the two that were “caught” and charged with mineral theft.

Although it is a positive move to have these two people caught, what about everyone else?  How difficult would it be for the DENR to wipe out this illegal mining activity?

Actually the solution would be very easy to identify the areas where the illegal mining is occurring, if the DENR just had a few people policing this matter posing as buyers you would very rapidly expose every illegal operation.

Imagine all it would take is for the under-cover DENR operative to pose as a buyer, go visit the sellers and take photo’s of the stock-pile and operation….BUSTED!

Now with this data cross-reference against the existing approved permits and anyone in possession of minerals without the proper permits would be arrested and charged, within a matter of months the DENR would wipe out this illegal trade.

Then the minerals confiscated could be sold/auctioned to legitimate registered traders of minerals and that would more than finance the whole operation.

So why is this not done?  Of course the answer is simply if you stop the illegal mining then how are these corrupt government officials going to earn money?

What is posted here is not a matter of my opinion, it is a matter of fact from my personal experience in the industry.

Thursday - Flyday… by Rundstedt B. Rovillos on Flickr.

Best friends by Rundstedt B. Rovillos on Flickr.

It will take 280 years to reforest Phl

Manila, Philippines - An official of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) warned that at the rate of denudation of Philippine forests, it would take 280 years to reforest the entire country.              

Antonio Manila, technical director for forestry of DENR-National Capital Region, said the countrys forest cover has dwindled to about five percent of total land area, from about 17 million hectares in 1934.               

This rapid loss of the country’s forest cover is seen as a major culprit of flash floods and landslides that have brought massive damage over the past several years. Experts add that massive deforestation is the primary reason behind the Philippines being ranked as having the most severely endangered mammal and bird fauna in the world. The degradation is also responsible for the increasing floods and droughts in the country, Manila said during the recent launch of the 2011 Globe Cordillera Challenge.             

In the Cordillera Mountain Range alone, Manila said that the deforestation rate had risen to alarming levels, resulting in massive erosion and groundwater depletion.                

Each year, about 300 hectares of the Cordillera forest reserve is lost to fire, illegal logging and land conversion. Increasing deforestation of the Cordillera mountain range, which serves as watershed for the lowland areas of Ilocos and Cagayan regions, would hasten the drying up of sources of water for domestic and irrigation uses in the different Cordillera communities and the lowland provinces.              

He added, “We’re losing too much forest cover at such an alarming rate. If we are unable to speed-up reforestation efforts and slow down the denudation of our forests, we will likely experience worse landslides and flash floods. And, in dryer months, drought will be a bigger threat.”              

The United Nations General Assembly declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests (IYF) in order to raise awareness to strengthen the sustainable management, conservation and sustainable development of all types of forests.              

Being a UN member-state and one of its original founders, and as a party to the UN Forum on Forests, the Philippines recognized the IYF as the perfect vehicle to raise awareness about the value of forests and the peoples vital role in its conservation and sustainable development and at the same time promote shared actions at the national, regional and local levels.              

To support the IYF and to make the Philippines an even greener country, President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 125 last March 15, 2011, declaring 2011 as the National Year of Forests. Corollary to this, the President launched the National Greening Program (NGP), a massive private-public sector collaboration that aims to jumpstart efforts on resource conservation and protection.

This year, Manila said the DENR plans to reforest 100,000 hectares nationwide. In Benguet alone, at the heart of the Cordillera forests, 451 hectares of planting sites are being developed as communal forests.              

There are a lot of open, denuded and marginal areas around the Philippines that need to be reforested under the NGP. With the support of the private sector and other stakeholders, we hope to be able to achieve the programs objectives, added Manila.              

To fast track reforestation efforts in the Cordillera mountain range, various stakeholders are again mobilizing efforts to plant more trees.              

Telecommunications company Globe joined forces with the Cordillera Conservation Trust, a non-stock, non-profit organization dedicated to help preserve the Cordillera mountain ecosystem, for the second run of the Globe Cordillera Challenge, a challenging 40-kilometer bike ride through mountain trails of the Cordillera range that aims to raise funds for the reforestation of the Cordilleras.              

The project aims to raise funds to plant 30,000 seedlings this year and help build small plant nurseries in the local communities to further encourage Cordillera mountainfolk to take care of the environment.               

A total of 250 bikers will participate in this years challenge and will bike from Burnham Park in Baguio City to La Trinidad on May 21. Each biker needs to raise P1,000 to join the biking activity.