DENR sends team to investigate lahar flow in Guinobatan, Albay

Marje Pelayo   •   November 5, 2020   •   790

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered an investigation into the incident of lahar flow in Barangay San Francisco in Guinobatan, Albay which is being associated with quarry operations at the foot of Mount Mayon.

A team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is on its way to the site to assess and delve into what caused the incident. 

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the DENR and other concerned agencies to investigate the matter as residents blame the quarrying activities in the area for the lahar flow.

According to Environment Undersecretary Jones Leones, around 100 quarry operators are now under investigation. 

Some of them acquired their permits from the local government unit (LGU) while others are said to not have a permit to operate at all, the official noted.

The agency targets to complete its investigation and come up with a report within the next 15 days.

“Kasi ang nangyari doon, because of the heavy rains parang naging shallow ang riverbeds doon. Nagkaroon ngayon ng overflowing. Nag-flooding doon. Saka ang mga buhangin masyadong malakas kasi maraming naka-stock doon sa periphery ng bulkan [What happened there was the riverbeds became shallow due to the heavy rains. The river overflowed; thus, the flooding. And a large stock of sand at the periphery of the volcano came raging down],” Leones explained.

“So noong umulan talagang nagbagsakan ang mga buhangin, mga quarrying materials [So when it rained, the sand and other quarrying materials cascaded rapidly],” he added.

Leones stressed that any operator who will be proven to be guilty of negligence or violations may face administrative charges.

Affected residents may also claim for damages that cause them, the official added.

“Kung may napinsalang indibidwal on the basis of our findings pwede nilang magamit iyon para mag claim sila ng danyos or magkaroon ng criminal case sila against doon sa sinomang nakagawa ng pinsala sa kanila [If any individual was hurt or affected, on the basis of our findings, they could file for claims for the damages or they may file a criminal case against those that cause them damage],” Usec. Leones said.

According to Albay Governor Al Bichara, they will cooperate with the order of the President, but appealed that the investigation should be finished first before suspending the operations as the materials from the quarrying operations will be needed for the rehabilitation of damaged houses and establishments in the province.

“If they will stop quarrying, we will run out of aggregates for reconstruction, rehabilitation of our province, not only that of the region because most of the aggregates come from Albay,” the governor said in a statement.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) earlier noted that lahar or mudflow usually searches an alternative path on the slope of the volcano if the old one turns shallow.

This could also happen to other volcanoes like in Mt. Pinatubo, the agency warns. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Pangolin found in Ayala Alabang to return home in Palawan

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 19, 2021

The pangolin that was found in Barangay Ayala Alabang in Muntinlupa will soon be homeward bound to its natural habitat in Palawan.

Last Monday (August 16), a resident turned over a Philippine pangolin to the National Wildlife Rescue and Research Center (NWRRC) after finding it in their backyard. Rescuers immediately responded and took custody of the pangolin which was named ‘Pandi’.

According to the NWRRC, Pandi has minor cuts around his body but his health is in stable condition.

Bukod doon sa mga minor scratch niya wala pa namang alarming na sign na medyo kailangan naming bantayan ng sobra, (Aside from minor scratches [Pandi] does not have any alarming signs that would need our utmost attention),” according to NWRRC chief and in-house veterinarian Dr. Glenn Maguad.

Pandi is now scheduled to return to Palawan, however, no date has been set yet.

Pangolins are considered a critically endangered species and the most traffic wildlife. Pangolins are being traded primarily as ingredients in traditional Chinese medicine.

Maguad said pangolins are considered gardeners of the forest because they like to dig rotten trees for termites. They contribute to the ecosystem through soil conditioning. -AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

DENR calls on sea vessel owners to explain dumping of waste in Manila Bay

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will summon the owners of sea vessels that dock at the Navotas Fish Port in Baseco, Manila through the Anti-Pollution Task Force.

The DENR, along with the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), conducted an inspection at the Navotas Fish Port on Friday (June 4) to check for metal content, fecal coliform, and grease present in the water.

According to DENR Usec. Benny Antiporda, several sea vessels docked at the Fish Port are dumping waste in Manila Bay.

Antiporda said the department will summon the concerned individuals to explain the issue.

“We will talk to them immediately after this kasi ipasu-summon natin sila sa Anti-Pollution Task Force para magkaroon ng dialogue between sea vessels and the government,” he said.

According to the captain of one of the cargo vessels, Angelito Balitaan, there are instances that they would throw waste in Manila Bay because their vessel does not have a sewage system and they do not have enough funds for sewage repairs.

“Starting na natuto ako nang ganiyan iyan na kinagisnan ko, minana na din iyan wala pang implementation ng mga sewage sewage,” he said.

Meanwhile, the test results of the water samples will be released in a week.  AAC (with reports from JP Nuñez)

DENR warns traders illegally selling wildlife species online

Marje Pelayo   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu warned illegal wildlife traders that they are being monitored by the agency’s wildlife enforcers even amid the quarantine.

“Mobility restrictions may cause some deterrence to our wildlife enforcers, but these shall not stop them from implementing environmental laws to protect our natural resources,” Secretary Cimatu of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said.

The official made such a warning following the arrest of a certain Benjie Saunar for illegal possession and selling of two Umbrella cockatoos (Cacatua alba) in a buy-bust operation conducted by the DENR’s Environmental Protection and Enforcement Task Force (EPETF) on April 28.

The operatives also recovered a Palm cockatoo (Probosciger aterrimus) from Saunar’s possession.

Prior to the operation, the suspect was monitored by the DENR- EPETF operatives to have been illegally selling wildlife species online.

He was apprehended in an entrapment operation conducted by the DENR EPETF with the Manila Police District Station 8 and the Manila District Anti-Cybercrime Team.

The suspect has undergone inquest proceedings at the Manila City Prosecutors Office and is charged for violating Republic Act (RA) 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Protection and Conservation Act of 2001.

As of May 3, the wildlife species, along with other paraphernalia, such as the motorcycle and cellphone used by Saunar, are under the custody of the DENR-NCR Office.

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