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Cleaner air and rivers: Cimatu cites reasons to celebrate DENR’s anniversary amid Covid

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic that slowed down government operations and caused economic devastation, there are still a lot of reasons to celebrate the 34th Anniversary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In his inspirational message during the agency’s online celebration, Cimatu said the Philippines now has cleaner air and water, stronger partnership with communities, and environmental champions, as he reported the highlights of the agency’s accomplishment over the past year.

The country’s “cleaner air,” Cimatu said, is well within the standards for PM10 and PM2.

Meanwhile of the 43 priority rivers monitored last year, close to 75 percent of the water quality standard for biological oxygen demand have been met.

He added that under the Duterte administration, all illegal dumpsites were shut down.

“These are no small accomplishments. The closure of the 335 illegal dumpsites is [by no means a] small matter,” Cimatu said.

The DENR, through the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), facilitated the formation of the coalition of solid waste management providers.

“The first in the history of DENR to be able to gather all these sanitary landfill operations for a better solid waste management in the country,” Cimatu, a former military general plucked by President Duterte from retirement to lead the DENR, said.

Cimatu continued by mentioning the improvements on Boracay Island.

“We moved heaven and earth to bring back the ecological integrity of the island by efforts that included the recovery of beach easement, demolition of structures that encroach on the easement, improvement of the circumferential road, construction of drainage to address flooding and improvement of seawater quality,” he said.

According to Cimatu, the restoration of Manila Bay to its historic glory is progressing well.

“Water quality in the Manila Baywalk and Baseco Beach areas have significantly improved with the construction of a solar-powered sewage treatment plant. The continuous cleanup of waterways draining into the bay, such as the Tullahan-Tinajeros River System, where dredging continues and the installation of more than 20 trash traps in different areas,” he said.

Currently, Cimatu said the DENR is relentless in pursuing activities for hard-hit areas during typhoons Rolly and Ulysses, namely, Marikina, Cagayan Valley, and Bicol, having been tasked by President Duterte to lead the Task Force Build Back Better.

“Dredging activities in the river systems and bamboo planting for river bank stabilization went full blast even amid the current pandemic,” Cimatu said.

Despite these accomplishments, he said the DENR’s work is far from over.

“We have a lot more to do and gains to sustain. We need more strengthen partnership and collaboration to make our work more meaningful,” Cimatu said.

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