Press Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has suspended two nickel mining firms in Zambales.

Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) Director Leo Jasareno identified the two suspended mining firms as the Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation (ZDMC) and the Benguetcorp Nickel Mines, Inc, (BNMI). MGB is a line bureau under the DENR.

According to Jasareno, the suspension of the two mining companies stemmed from “various alleged environmental crimes, violations of the mining and environmental laws, and complaints of various groups against the alleged environmental impacts” of their mining operations.

The suspension of ZDMC and BNMI was contained in a letter addressed to Cesar F. Simbulan, Jr., President of ZDMC, and Leopoldo P. Sison, President of BNMI. MGB Region 3 Director Lope O. Cariño, Environmental Management Bureau Region 3 Director Lormelyn E. Claudio and DENR Region 3 Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr. signed the letter.

The letter, dated July 7, 2016, referred to the Writ of Kalikasan issued by the Supreme Court in the case filed by the Concerned Citizens of Santa Cruz, Zambales (GR No. 224375) against the mining operations in Zambales, Executive Order No. 01 issued by the Provincial Government of Zambales suspending the said mining operations and the complaints filed by various private groups.

It said that the suspension will "ensure that the environment, particularly the communities, farmlands and water bodies are not compromised as a result of the mining operations pursuant to the pertinent mining and environmental laws."

The letter ordered the two companies to comply with the conditions cited, among which are to address the issues arising from the tree-cutting and earthballing operations, the completion of construction of an exclusive mine haul road, rehabilitation of mined-out and open areas, and the full deposit of the Final Mine Rehabilitation/Decommissioning Funds.

It also directed the rehabilitation and compensation of all owners of farmlands, fishponds and water bodies adversely affected by the mining operations, and the repair of all damaged portions of roads as a result of hauling operations.

A composite team of the DENR will conduct an audit of the mining operations of both firms to determine compliance with the mining and environmental laws.

In 2014, a suspension order was issued by MGB Region 3 to the other operating nickel mines in Zambales: lnl Archipelago Minerals, lnc. and Eramen Minerals, Inc. on the extraction and future expansion of their mining areas until they have employed systematic mining methods by removing all stockpiles in the mining area and piling them in designated stockpile areas equipped with proper drainage system. They were also ordered to implement a care and maintenance plan/measures for the duration of the suspension order.

With the latest suspension order, all 4 large-scale mining operations in Zambales are now suspended. ###

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Paz L. Lopez today condemned the killing of anti-coal activist Gloria Capitan last Friday, saying the investigation of the killing should not stop with the arrest of the assassins who pulled the trigger, but should lead to the arrest of the mastermind.

“I am calling on the authorities, particularly the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to investigate the killing and leave no stone unturned to identify the identities of the perpetrators,” said Lopez.

“The killing of Ms. Capitan should be a grim reminder to all of us regarding the insurmountable risks that we face for standing up to powerful interests of the few. Her ultimate sacrifice will only strengthen our conviction to serve the common good,” Lopez said.

The environment chief also conveyed her sympathies to the family of Capitan. ###

Known environmental activist Regina Paz L. Lopez took over the top post of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) from outgoing Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje in simple ceremonies held at the DENR Social Hall on Friday (July 1).

The turnover was attended by all DENR officials including newly appointed Senior Undersecretary Joselin Marcus E. Fragada, bureau and regional directors, and employees. Also present was the Green Thumb Coalition, a group of non-profit organizations which counts the Lopez-led ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation among its members.

“Integrity, public service and the common good are the key deciding factors for any decision that will be taken,” Lopez said on how she will lead the Department.

"The way to go forward is in the spirit of service. The main thing that will determine what we will do is the welfare of our people. We will never do anything that will put at risk the lives of our people. Their life is paramount,” she added.

Lopez also expressed her desire to have a good team in the Department. "We are here not only because we are being paid but because we love God and country."

During the press conference, the new DENR chief announced the President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to conduct an audit of all existing mining operations in the Philippines and to monitor those which have complied with the April 30 deadline for ISO 14001 certification. She added that she would like all mining companies to be certified to be at par with global standards.

"The ISO 14001 is just another way of saying responsible mining. If you’re responsible, then you have to have the highest standards."

She also cited her goal for communities living near biodiversity-rich areas benefit from these. According to her, the Philippines has the "most endemicity per unit area" and the "most flora and fauna exclusive" to it.

She will also campaign for reforestation, initiate environmental summits for the youth and create a helpdesk to attend to the people’s needs. "We’re putting up a hotline and email (account) on a regional level,” she said.

A staunch environmentalist and anti-mining advocate, Lopez said she accepted the post because she sees it as "an opportunity to make something good happen to the country".

Lopez was the chair of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and the ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation, Inc. prior to her new government post. She is the 15th secretary of the Department since it was reorganized as the DENR in 1987.

Meanwhile, Fragada, in his welcome remarks, thanked Paje for his six-year leadership, and welcomed Lopez whose "enthusiasm and energetic behavior" will give the Department a "new brand of leadership".

He added that it will be a mixture of DENR tradition and new innovations that Lopez will introduce in the coming years in pursuit of the mandate to conserve and preserve the country's environment and natural resources.

Paje also took the occasion to thank all employees and rally them to support Lopez. ###

“Integrity, public service and the common good are the key deciding factors for any decision that will be taken,” this is according to the newly appointed DENR Secretary Gina Lopez when asked how she will lead the agency.

“Any industry must bear in mind that the common good is paramount in their operations and not the money they make,” she further said.

A staunch environmentalist, Lopez emphasized the need for the agency to be pro-active and undertake policies and programs, which will ensure that the environment is protected and that natural resources are utilized sustainably.

“The DENR will be a proactive and strategic regulatory agency that will enable the convergence of various sectors so that they may implement strategies that promote area development.”

Lopez recognizes and appreciates the importance of creating space for the participation of civil society. To this end, mechanisms will be created in DENR operations that will guarantee the meaningful engagement of the church, environment NGOs, the youth, farmers and fisherfolk. “It is with their collaboration that we will achieve the change we need,” she said.

The main thrusts of Lopez’s administration are the following: institutional reform and environmental governance; community empowerment; rational minerals management; stronger biodiversity protection; proper ecological solid waste management; and efficient inter-agency collaboration towards clean air, clean water and transformative climate change policies. #

Five forest workers who lost their lives in the line of duty were honored by the Environmental Heroes Foundation Inc. (EHFI) during a simple ceremony held at the central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Quezon City on last week.

The five received posthumous honors from EHFI – a non-stock, non-profit organization managing an endowment fund for relatives of DENR heroes – for their contribution to the government’s fight against illegal logging.

EHFI board is headed by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Reynato Puno. Its members include former DENR Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje, retired Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, GMA Network chair Felipe Gozon and former Civil Service Commission (CSC) chair Francisco Duque III.

The honorees are forester Isidro L. de la Peña; forest rangers Logendrin B. Aranca and Wilfredo A. Bayucot; and tree markers Bernabe M. Malijao and Jaime C. Diez.

All five honorees were killed during missions against suspected illegal loggers operating in so-called illegal logging “hotspots” identified by the DENR.

Aside from plaques of recognition, relatives of each honoree received livelihood assistance worth P300,000.

Puno extolled the awardees as “unsung heroes, who have lost their lives to protect our own lives to live.”

“This fight has long started. And it is raging in our forests, in our seas, in our valleys, in our mountains,” said the country’s former top magistrate.

“I hope this foundation (EHFI), known as foundation for environmental heroes, will continue to live our awareness, our consciousness, to the significance of this struggle to protect our environment,” he added.

“The struggle that we cannot lose, a fight we should win by all means, and all the way.”

The EHFI was conceptualized by Puno and Paje in 2012. That same year, then President Benigno Aquino III donated P5 million from the President’s Social Fund as seed money for the foundation.

The CSC also donated some P314,000 generated from a fun run it organized in 2011 during the 111th anniversary of the Philippine Civil Service.

Aranca, 55, and Malijao, 34, died on August 22, 1995 when their motorcycle was ran over by a jeepney they were chasing after its driver refused to stop at the DENR checkpoint along the Siniloan highway in Mabitac town in Laguna. The jeepney was loaded with undocumented narra timber. The driver fled but was later arrested for double murder.

Meanwhile, then 50-year-old Bayucot fell off a motorcycle that was fatally hit by an Isuzu Elf loaded with Gmelina lumber in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur. Bayucot was brought to the hospital and was in critical condition for three days before he died.

Dela Peña was gunned down by an unidentified assailant in Matina, Davao on September 28, 2004, less than a year after he led an arresting team that seized four container vans stocked with undocumented cut lumber. The vans contained an estimated volume of 60,000 to 70,000 board feet of lumber valued up to P1.4 million.

Diez, on the other hand, was shot to death inside his home in Bayugan, Agusan del Sur on February 23, 2012. The investigation revealed that his death had something to do with his role in the confiscation of close to 8,000 pieces equivalent to more than 260,000 board feet of lumber and flitches of mixed dipterocarp in 2011. The contraband had an estimated market value of P2.46 million. ###