UNDERSCORING the importance of protecting the Cagayan River, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu urged field officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protect it against indiscriminate dumping of waste and other pollutants.
Cimatu visited the DENR’s office in Tuguegarao City over the weekend and noticed the vast tracks of farmlands planted with rice and corn on his way from the Tuguegarao airport to the field offices of the DENR.
“The Cagayan River is the main source of irrigation water of the valley. Let us protect the river from litters and other pollutants,” Cimatu said in a statement.
Located in the northeast of the region, Cagayan River is the longest river in the country, running around 520 kilometers. It is also the largest river basin in the Philippines, having a drainage area of 2.7 million hectares.
During his dialogue with the field officials and employees, Cimatu expounded on the directions of the DENR under his watch, including his move to strengthen the community environment and natural resources offices (Cenros) as the agency’s frontliners.
“Kayo ang panlaban, kaya kailangang palakasin ang mga Cenro, as you are in the frontline not only in the implementation of DENR programs but also in the enforcement of environmental laws, such as the Clean Air Act, the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act and the Clean Water Act,” Cimatu said.
The DENR chief added he has ordered the hiring of new lawyers on a contractual basis to be deployed in every Cenro, to assist in law enforcement and resolution of land cases. The lawyers will be trained in environmental law enforcement.
Cimatu also urged his subordinates to continue serving the public with utmost honesty and excellence. He specifically emphasized that funds for the Enhanced National Greening Program (eNGP) shall be used solely for its implementation.
“Ipatupad natin ang eNGP na walang kalokohan,” he said.
He also directed the regional office to fast-track the issuance of land titles with a warning, “Walang manghihingi ng bayad.”
Cimatu also handed the “Bayani ng Kalikasan” Award (for the Fallen Heroes of the Environment) to the parents of Mark Ian B. de la Cruz, and commended four others, for their “outstanding commitment to service”.
Dela Cruz, a forest technician assigned at the CENRO in Solana, Cagayan, together with Forester II Wilbert P. Ranchez; Extension Officers Noel Q. Massalang and Joel S. Ortiz; and Forest Protection Officer Mark Anthony M. Capuchino, were conducting geotagging at an NGP site in Rizal, Cagayan, on May 12, 2016, when they were hit by lightning, rendering them all unconscious. While the other members of the team had regained consciousness, de la Cruz remained unconscious despite efforts to revive him. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared DOA.
Following his visit to DENR-Region 2, Cimatu also served as the guest speaker at the 46th Founding Anniversary of Quirino province.
In his speech, the DENR chief assured the people of Quirino of continued partnership and support from the DENR, particularly in reforestation and in the enforcement of environmental laws, rules and regulations in the province.
“I do not need to remind you to take good care of the environment and natural resources of your province. Our people—especially the indigenous communities — traditionally have a very close relationship with nature and can be very fierce in their defense,” Cimatu said.
He also led the signing of the pledge of support for forest protection during the Forum on Forest Protection that was held prior to the anniversary program.