THERE will be a smooth turnover of the programs and projects of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to the incoming administration
This was the assurance made by DENR Acting Secretary Jim Sampulna as he already formed a transition team even before the appointment of a new DENR chief.
Sampulna said a DENR undersecretary will chair the team to oversee the preparations for the handing over of responsibilities.
“We are ready. The documents have been prepared and will be presented to the next DENR Secretary,” he said.
According to Sampulna, this move is aligned with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s instruction to his cabinet officials to “do it right.”
“By doing it right, he means you won’t make excuses and you will not do any nonsensical actions. Because I have a good President, I will leave DENR in good governance,” he said.
Among the top DENR programs to be handed over to the incoming DENR chief are the Boracay Rehabilitation and Manila Bay Rehabilitation.
In 2018, President Duterte ordered the rehabilitation of Boracay Island over concerns that its famous beaches and clear blue waters have been transformed into a “cesspool” because of sustained environmental damage.
Boracay’s successful rehabilitation has served as a model for the rehabilitation of Manila Bay.
The Manila Bay Rehabilitation Program, dubbed as “Battle for Manila Bay,” started on Jan. 27, 2019, in compliance with the Supreme Court’s Writ of Continuing Mandamus directing 13 government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and restore and maintain its waters to SB level to make it fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation.
As part of the historic bay’s rehabilitation program, a solar-powered sewage treatment plant (STP) was installed along Roxas Boulevard in Manila on July 30, 2020.
The installation of solar-powered STPs in the cities of Pasay and Las Piñas is also in the pipeline.
Based on the monitoring of the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau, the average coliform levels in the 10 stations along the Manila Baywalk have dramatically decreased from 198,000 most probable number per 100 milliliters (MPN/100 mL) in 2019 to 47,900 MPN/100 mL in 2022.
On the other hand, coliform level in the Manila Bay Dolomite Beach area has an average of 1,200 mpn/100ml from its three monitoring stations.
The Manila Bay Dolomite Beach is a part of the beach nourishment process under the Manila Bay Rehabilitation program.
The DENR was able to draw inspiration from these initiatives as it also ramped up the rehabilitation of other resorts and water bodies nationwide.
Meanwhile, Undersecretary for Policy, Planning and International Affairs Jonas R. Leones said that they will also be proposing to the next administration the continuation of task force on disaster recovery and rehabilitation created under the Duterte administration and the strict implementation of major environmental laws.
“The challenge is the effects of climate change; we are expecting tropical cyclones and calamities such as landslides and flooding. That’s why during the time of President Duterte we have the Task Force Build Back Better, a whole-of-government approach on post-disaster response,” said Leones.
“Secondly, our agency is mandated to protect the environment and conserve the natural resources, so we will focus on this and discuss with the incoming administration the strict implementation of environmental laws such as Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act,” he added.
Moreover, under the solid waste management program, the DENR strengthened the implementation of Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, highlighted by the closure of open dumpsites all over the country.