Press Releases

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has assured the Lumad or indigenous peoples of Mindanao that mining operations in the region found in violation of mining and environmental laws and regulations would be suspended.

This, even as Lopez urged them to submit their proposed development plan for areas which have been affected by destructive mining activities.

"Sususpindihin natin ang mga mining company na lumalabag sa batas," Lopez told Lumad representatives during their dialogue held at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Manila last Sunday.

During the dialogue, the Lumad representatives complained about the new open pit mines and tailings ponds constructed in their areas, which have severely affected their livelihoods.

The group cited Sagittarius Mines Inc. in Tampakan, Sultan Kudarat; SR Metals Inc. in Tubay, Agusan del Sur; and Greenstone Mining and Taganito Mining, both in Surigao del Norte, as among those whose operations have seriously affected IP communities due to siltation, open pit mining and stockpiles.

The Lumad also appealed to Lopez to halt illegal logging and encroachment in watershed areas, and stop militarization in their areas which they claimed was related to the plan of large-scale mining companies to setup new businesses.

They likewise called for the return of all the Lumad displaced from their ancestral lands because of mining and illegal logging activities.

At the end of the dialogue, Lopez assured the Lumad that she was one with them in their cause and that an investigation and audit of the mining companies they have mentioned is underway.

She said the government will study the development plan submitted by the Lumad and address their concerns at the soonest possible time.

The Lumad present during the dialogue are part of the Manilakbayan 2016, a delegation from Mindanao which marched to Manila to bring their plight to the attention of their fellow-Mindanawon, President Rodrigo Duterte, in time for his first State of the Nation Address. ###

he Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has once again joined forces with two service-oriented organizations to rehabilitate the 26,125-hectare Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL), one of Metro Manila's sources of water supply.

Around 120 volunteers from the Rotary Club of Makati-Rockwell (RCMR) and the Career Executive Service Board (CESB) trooped to an upland barangay within the UMRBPL over the weekend to plant some 2,000 native tree seedlings.

The activity was part of the commitment of the RCMR and CESB to help the DENR address the loss of forest cover in UMRBPL due to illegal activities like slash-and-burn farming, charcoal making and timber poaching. The two service-oriented groups have been partners of the DENR since 2010.

This is the second time that the RCMR and CESB volunteers have conducted reforestation activities in Sitio San Ysiro in Barangay San Jose, Antipolo City to fulfill their commitment to reforest at least seven hectares of open and denuded forestland allotted by the DENR under the National Greening Program or NGP.

The tree-planting activity was led by DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones, RCMR president Kris Gorra Dancel and CESB executive director Ma. Anthonette Lllones.

The effort was an offshoot from the success the tripartite partnership had in the the roadside greening of the South Luzon Expressway which saw the planting of some 18,423 tree seedlings from 2010 to 2014, covering a combined distance of 40 kilometers. The effort posted a survival rate ranging from 70 to 95 percent based on the monitoring report of the DENR-Region IVA office in Calamaba, Laguna.

Volunteers from the Region IV office of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), led by Cavite District Engineer Arthur Pascual Jr., also took part in the event.

In October last year, the volunteers planted some 1,000 native fruit-bearing and forest trees in the area, covering two hectares of land and has an elevation of 350 meters above sea level.

Anchored on the theme “Preventing Disasters, Providing Livelihood,” the tree-planting project in UMRBPL has some 20 households beneficiaries, each consisting of as many as three families, who were hired to conduct maintenance and protection activities on the planted areas.
The beneficiaries are also entitled to harvest the fruits from the trees planted and grown at the site.

The UMRBPL is considered one of the most important protected areas being supervised by the DENR as the watershed is a major source of water for Metro Manila and nearby areas.

The river basin was placed under the administrative jurisdiction and control of the DENR by virtue of Presidential Proclamation 296 issued in 2011. The entire area covers the upper reaches of the Marikina watershed in the province of Rizal, straddling Antipolo City and the towns of Baras, Rodriguez, San Mateo and Tanay.

The flooding in Metro Manila and other nearby low-lying areas during tropical storm 'Ondoy' (international name: Ketsana) in 2009 exposed extent of forest loss and degradation in UMRBPL, fueling public-private partnerships on rehabilitating the watershed to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

Reforestation and alternative livelihood activities for communities are among the several measures the government and its partners have undertaken to help rehabilitate the UMRBPL.

The area originally covered some 27,980 hectares when it was established as "Mariquina Reserve" by virtue of Executive Order (EO) 33 issued by US Civil Gov. Luke Edward Wright in 1904, banning the settlement, entry, sale or disposition of a vast tract of land to “protect the watershed of the Marikina River, the source of water supply of the city of Manila.”

Portions of the reservations were however excluded from the area by executive fiats issued from 1904 to 1996 and these were converted into residential, commercial and industrial areas, contrary to the intent of the EO 33 to protect and preserve the area. ###

Environment Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez has welcomed a move by President Duterte to go after local government executives who are remiss in their duties to address garbage woes in their respective localities.

“It is high time that local government officials should be made accountable, especially now that we are anticipating La Niña that would be bringing in excessive rainwater and could put a lot of low-lying areas under water for days,” Lopez said.

Duterte earlier expressed dismay over the inability of mayors and governors to manage garbage in their areas, as he vowed to create a special body that will look into the intelligence and discretionary funds of local officials.

The President pointed out that governors and mayors could effectively manage their garbage well using their respective intelligence and discretionary funds.

Lopez, meanwhile, said she would look into the compliance or non-compliance of local government units (LGUs) with Republic Act No. 9003, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000.

Crafted in response to the looming garbage problems in the country, RA 9003 declares the policy of the state in adopting a systematic, comprehensive and ecological solid waste management program that ensures the protection of public health and the environment.

The law mandates LGUs to ensure proper segregation, collection, transport, storage, treatment and disposal of solid waste through the formulation and adoption of best environmental practices.

“I understand that cases have been filed against 50 LGUs with the Office of the Environmental Ombudsman. If there’s a need to add more, we will do so in order not to cause more suffering to our people due to dirty environment,” Lopez said.

While a number of LGUs have already banned the use of plastics in their respective areas, Lopez said that there is a need to follow up on the implementation of the ban to get results.

“It is not enough that you have issued the ban, we should make sure that the ban is implemented to the letter in order to get the results that we have envisioned,” Lopez pointed out.

The environment chief also underscored the need to raise public awareness of RA 9003 and the ordinances related to garbage, saying “it is only when you get people to act on community problem that we will be able to address this national concern with success.”

Last February, Commissioner Romeo Hidalgo of the Ecowaste Coalition filed 50 complaints against local executives who failed to implement the 16-year-old solid waste management law. ###

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has vowed to build stronger working ties with all stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of environmental programs of the Duterte administration.

In her presentation during the general membership meeting of the Financial Executive Institute of the Philippines or FINEX at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City on Wednesday (July 20), Lopez emphasized the importance of working together with other government agencies, the private sector and the civil society in implementing the programs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

To increase the impact of environmental programs at less cost, Lopez said she will work towards institutionalizing the participation of the civil society in environment and natural resource management by setting up a civil society organization (CSO) arm within the DENR.

"Civil society should be the one to protect the environment. We can accomplish this together," Lopez said.

Lopez said her primary focus is to improve the quality of life for poor people by providing them alternative source of livelihoods that promote the preservation of the environment and natural resources.

"The environment is being desecrated because of poverty," she pointed out.

Lopez noted how the funds for the National Greening Program (NGP), the government's massive reforestation initiative that has been extended until 2028, "could be funneled into the economy through farmers, fishermen, and the youth.”

She said the NGP sites would be used to create economic zones through agro-forestry “so that people would grow and care for the trees that they plant and they can earn from it.”

Lopez said she is willing to collaborate with other Cabinet members to ensure the success of the administration's environmental programs and projects. As an example, she cited the commitment expressed by Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa to run after illegal loggers and fishers, and other violators of environmental laws.

The environment chief also reiterated her interest and willingness to work with the youth sector. "I want to capture their idealism and energy into doing something for the environment and the people," she said.

Lopez said the DENR would tap the academe and some government agencies in building "island models" to showcase convergence approach in developing the environment.

She identified six areas as potential island models. These are Oriental Mindoro, Sibuyan island in Romblon, Palawan, Sorsogon, Guimaras and Batangas.

The DENR secretary also declared every Wednesday as "People's Day" in all DENR offices nationwide to allow officials and employees address public concern and queries starting August 10.

She also announced the DENR’s new hotline for inquiries, 0917-522-9344, as well as the new email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. #

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is urging other paint manufacturers in the country to follow the examples of Boysen and Davies which recently obtained their Lead Safe Paint mark under a newly launched global certification program.

Boysen and Davies – among the country’s top paint makers and exporters – are the first two companies in the world to apply and obtain the Lead Safe Paint mark from the California-based SCS Global Services. Their paint products were certified to have no added lead, a toxic substance associated with irreparable brain and central nervous system damage.

Director Gilbert Gonzales of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said that at the very least, other paint manufacturers should comply with the prescribed limit of lead in paint products, particularly for architectural, decorative and household use by the end of 2016.

“May Boysen and Davies influence and encourage our paint industry to shift to lead-free production. These two companies serve as models and we welcome efforts by the industry to make and shift and follow their examples,” Gonzales said.

In behalf of the DENR, Gonzales congratulated Boysen and Davies for securing the privilege to display the Lead Safe Paint mark on the cans of their certified paint brands.

Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines Inc. acquired Lead Safe Paint certificates for its Boysen, Nation, Titan and Virtuoso brands (a total of 430 paint products), while Davies Paints Philippines Inc. obtained certification for its Davies brand (a total of 379 paint products).

Gonzales expressed hope the initiatives of the two paint makers would “increase the customers’ confidence, expand business transactions, allow uniform labeling, and most of all protect our children.”

In 2013, the DENR issued a chemical control order (CCO) for lead to limit, regulate, restrict and even prohibit its importation, distribution, use, manufacture and disposal.

DENR Administrative Order No. 2013-24 establishes 90 parts per million as threshold limit for lead in paint used in pigment, drying agent or for some intentional use.

It also sets a three-year phase-out period from 2013-2016 for lead-containing architectural, decorative and household paints, and six-year phase-out period from 2013-2019 for lead-containing industrial paints.

“As a toxic substance, the lead regulation covers not only the manufacturing process, but starts at the importation and distribution of this chemical and even up to treatment, storage and disposal of lead-containing wastes,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales said the CCO also prohibits the use of lead in the production of packaging for food and drink, fuel additives, water pipes, toys, school supplies and cosmetics and non-compliance to the law is subject to sanctions and penalties under Republic Act No. 6969, or the Toxic Substances, Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act. ###