The field operations undersecretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the key officials of Region 2 to ensure cleanliness of waterbodies and compliance with standards of mining operators.

“We have to give importance on the cleanliness of all waterways. Let us take this seriously,” Undersecretary Juan Miguel Cuna told the DENR regional officials during the management conference held in Santiago City, Isabela.

He said the government’s efforts in the rehabilitation of the famous Boracay Island and Manila Bay should be replicated in restoring other waterbodies in the country. Citing the accomplishments of the DENR-led Build Back Better Regional Task Force to restore the Cagayan River, Usec Cuna directed the field officials to ensure that no structure shall be established in no-build zones or within the easement areas.

The DENR official also made a reminder of the agency’s obligation to ensure responsible mining. “This is a mining region. With the lifting of the moratorium on mining permits, there is a corresponding responsibility for us to ensure that the mining is done properly. We make sure that these mining companies are compliant,” the environment undersecretary emphasized.

In April last year, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 130 lifting the nine-year ban on mineral agreements to boost the country’s economy and to support government projects by providing raw materials for the construction and development of other industries and by increasing employment opportunities in remote rural areas where there are mining activities thereby stimulating countryside development.

The Order has directed the DENR to strictly implement mines safety and environmental policies. It shall also ensure strict implementation of and compliance with the recommended measures of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council involving all mining operations, including other pertinent laws, rules, and regulations, and the terms and conditions of the mineral agreements.

During the regional management conference, the status of the Forestry Master Plan, Philippine Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan, and Lands Strategic Plan were presented. The importance of strategic and geospatial planning was also discussed.

Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan said revisiting master plans and knowing the baselines and universe data are necessary in coming up with good plans.

“We don’t just implement. We implement programs toward addressing particular ENR concerns that is why we have to have good plans,” she added.

Director Bambalan in her message also reminded the assistant regional directors, bureau regional directors, provincial and community environment and natural resources officers, and division chiefs regionwide, the marching order of Secretary Jim Sampulna to strictly observe and implement the existing environmental laws and applicable guidelines in exercising their duties and responsibilities.

“We were also directed to remain vigilant in the protection, conservation and management of the environment and natural resources; and to avoid any form of nefarious activities and corruption,” she said in closing. The management conference was graced by Santiago City Mayor Joseph Tan and Quirino Governor Dakila Carlo Cua.#