Provincial Releases

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on July 17 disabled all water lines and facilities of Agumil Philippines, Inc., after a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) was issued against the company for violating Republic Act 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 and polluting the Calabugan River in Brooke’s Point, Palawan.

The four-page CDO, which was released by DENR’s Pollution Adjudication Board (PAB), stated that Agumil Philippines, a palm oil mill facility, has discharged wastewater that exceeded the DENR Water Quality Guidelines and General Effluent Standards pursuant to DENR Administrative Order 2016-08, a clear violation of the provisions of the said law.

As such, the company was ordered “to cease and desist from undertaking any activity and/or operating machines or equipment generating pollution during the pendency of proceedings before the Board.”

The issuance of the CDO came at the heels of a complaint filed by residents and officials of Brgy. Calasaguen in January of this year, when they saw dead fish and prawns floating in the town’s Calabugan River. The river was found coated with black and oily liquid allegedly from the processing plant of Agumil Philippines. The oil mill was located in the nearby Brgy. Maasin.

Upon investigation of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Brooke’s Point, the management of the oil mill plant explained that the pipes of their siltation pond were accidentally hit by a backhoe during their regular dredging activity causing a leak that flowed towards Calabugan River.

The CENRO observed that the damaged pipes were only covered with sacks and wrapped with rubber stripped from the interior part of a tire. Officials of Agumil Philippines said that these were temporary measures and would be replaced with a concrete mound.

The CENRO further noted that the outlet of the broken pipes was positioned towards a creek that is a tributary of the river.

Following this report, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) MIMAROPA immediately conducted wastewater sampling on January 24. The result showed that Agumil Philippines exceeded the allowable effluent standards of Phosphate-Phosphorus, Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD5), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), and Oil and Grease (O&G).

This prompted EMB MIMAROPA to issue a Notice of Violation against the oil mill on February 21; and to subject it to a technical conference (TC) on March 15 to immediately correct its violations. During the TC, Agumil Philippines committed to submit on March 22, its plant and treatment process and a comprehensive pollution control program/compliance plan. However, it failed to do so.

“The Pollution Adjudication Board saw that there is indeed a prima facie evidence that Agumil Philippines ‘has discharged pollutants that constitute immediate threat to life, and public health, safety and welfare,’ hence the immediate issuance and implementation of the CDO,” EMB MIMAROPA Regional Director Atty. Drake Matias stated.

PAB is a quasi-judicial body created under the Office of the Secretary of the DENR. It assumes the powers and functions of the National Pollution Control Commission with respect to the adjudication of pollution cases under Republic Act 3931 (National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission).

Besides stopping Agumil Philippines from generating pollution, the CDO also directed it to show cause why a criminal case should not be filed against it for using a by-pass, or a diversion of wastewater from its collection system. It also reminded the company that it may be penalized a maximum fine of Php 200,000.00 for each day of violation, which is over and above the administrative fine for other violations it has committed.

The regional EMB was tasked to closely monitor Agumil Philippines’ compliance with the Order.

“The effort to save Calabugan River in Brooke’s Point forms part of Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s priority agenda to restore problematic bodies of water in the country and have clean water for all,” RD Matias shared.

“So we would like to remind everyone that the implementation of environmental rules and regulations is not only confined within identified tourism hot spots, such as El Nido and Coron in Palawan. We are mandated to enforce the law across the region and in the entire nation,” he pointed out.

Meanwhile, DENR MIMAROPA Regional Executive Director Henry Adornado thanked the residents of Brgy. Calasaguen for their vigilance in protecting Calabugan River and its marine resources.

“We are glad that communities are getting more involved in saving the environment. What Brgy. Calasaguen did is a testimony of our shared responsibility to protect nature, a mindful act worthy of emulation,” the Adornado said.

A team from EMB-MIMAROPA handed the CDO to Agumil Philippines Mill Manager Arthur Elicanal, and also posted notices of the company’s violations as part of the execution of the CDO. (With reports and photos from EMB-MIMAROPA and CENRO Brooke’s Point.)###

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Western Visayas recently hosted the “9th Training of Trainers (ToT9) on the Application of the Wildlife Law Enforcement Manual of Operations” among national government agencies.

In collaboration with the region’s Enforcement Division, the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Protect Wildlife Project, the ToT9 was conducted with participants coming from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), Philippine National Police (PNP), PNP-Aviation Security Group (PNP-AVSEGROUP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), Philippine Navy (PN), Local Government Units (LGUs), Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Customs (BoC) and the DENR’s provincial and community offices.

ToT9 aims to strengthen the knowledge and understanding of the participants of Republic Act 9147 also known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. They are also expected to disseminate the new rules and procedures for environmental cases and the application of the Manual of Operations in the enforcement of Wildlife Act.

“This training came timely since we are strengthening the enforcement of environmental laws. Thus, it is necessary to empower our field personnel with the knowledge and skills they need to enforce the provisions of the Wildlife Act. This will result to a more conserved and protected wildlife resources in the region,” said DENR 6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla, Jr.

During the ToT9, the participants were taught how to explain the important provisions of Wildlife Act and how to conduct wildlife species identification and proper handling. They were also taught how to identify and explain the steps to be taken by an enforcer in effecting detection of wildlife crime, the arrest of offenders and seizure of items and effects of wildlife crimes. The Fisheries Code as amended and Fisheries Enforcement Protocol were also explained to the participants, with emphasis on penalties and rules on endangered marine wildlife.

In strengthening the enforcement of the law, the participants learned the basic steps in monitoring and investigating wildlife cybercrime, and gained knowledge and skills on proper documentation of wildlife crime scene, including collection, handling and preservation of evidence. A mock trial was conducted for the participants to experience how to testify in court. They were also briefed on the issuance of a search warrant.

Atty. Edward Lorenzo, a USAID Representative, underscored the threat of wildlife trafficking in the country during the training. “The Philippines plays a very important role when it comes to wildlife trafficking in the region. It is both a poaching area and a major transhipment point,” he said.

The training is seen to boost the DENR’s efforts in the region to curb illegal wildlife activities such as poaching and wildlife trade to promote sustainable biodiversity management. It is also in strong support to Secretary Roy A. Cimatu’s Enhanced Biodiversity Conservation, which is one of his ten priority programs./DENR 6

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Central Luzon recently conducted an anti-illegal logging operation in Bulacan that resulted in the confiscation of 22,000 board feet of illegally sourced lumber in a lumberyard in the town of Baliuag. The seized lumber worth Php 1.2 million consisted of premium species mostly Dipterocarps.

In a separate operation, combined operatives of the National Bureau (NBI) environmental crime division and the DENR, confiscated 56,000 board feet of illegally sourced lumber of premium hardwood species worth Php3.2 million in a warehouse allegedly owned by a certain Ricky Yu. The wood species include narra, kamagong, tindalo, tanguile, yakal, mayapis and Benguet pine.

The DENR and NBI are now filing charges against Yu and his four Filipino accomplices identified as Andy Binos, Roberto Bonaobra, Ernesto Vasquez Jr., and Jerry Belgica for violating forestry laws. If found guilty, they may face a maximum of 20 years imprisonment.

The crackdown on illegal logging activities also led to a series of raids on establishments selling hot lumber including those located in a village in Guagua town in Pampanga. ###

 

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) seizes about 6,000 board feet of illegally sourced lumber of premium hardwood species worth more than a million pesos in Nueva Ecija. DENR, along with the Philippine Army (PA) and Philippine National Police (PNP), raided a one-hectare compound in Barangay Langla in Jaen town through a search warrant issued by Judge Celso Baguio of Gapan City. According to DENR Central Luzon Regional Executive Director Paquito Moreno, Jr., premium species of yakal, lauan, and molave were found inside the compound without necessary documents. These species, which are included in the logging ban, were illegally sourced from the remaining natural forest in the Sierra Madre mountain range.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered the donation of assorted pieces of hardwood to the 22 crewmen of F/V GEM VER for the repair of their fishing boats damaged in the collision incident in Recto Bank in the West Philippine Sea on June 9.

In his directive to Department of Environment and Natural Resources MIMAROPA (Region 4B) Regional Executive Director (RED) Henry Adornado, Cimatu instructed the donation of 379 pieces or 3,084 board feet of confiscated lumber to the fishermen involved in the incident. Felix Dela Torre and Junel Insigne received the lumber on behalf of the affected fishermen. The men are all residents of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

DENR Region 4B, through its regular forest patrol and monitoring, has collected confiscated lumber that may be used for construction purposes.

“We are glad that we are able to make use of confiscated forest products to help our fellowmen,” said RED Adornado. “Nature indeed has its way of helping people start anew,” he added.

 The donation of confiscated lumber to the F/V GEM VER crewmen was facilitated by the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office in Occidental Mindoro and the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office in San Jose. ###