Lito Atienza's Blog

MANILA WAS NOT IN A STATE OF BANKRUPTCY WHEN I STEPPED DOWN AS MAYOR

July 31, 2009
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The following articles were taken from various newspaper columns disputing some statements being made by incumbent officials of the City of Manila that I left the city in a negative financial position:

AUGUST 5, 2009 THE PHILIPPINE STAR
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Lito Atienza yesterday denounced repeated allegations reportedly made by his successor, Mayor Alfredo Lim, that the Manila city government was bankrupt after his third term as mayor.

In a statement, Atienza said if the Manila government claims bankruptcy, nobody must be blamed but themselves.

“They (current local officials of Manila) must be responsible enough to manage the premier city properly,” he said.

Atienza said if the current local officials of Manila are failing, they are answerable to the people.

“Inheriting a poor annual revenue collection of only P2 billion from my predecessor in 1998, my administration, through innovative reforms, overwhelmingly raised it up to P8 billion. Our income-generating efforts were evidenced by topping the ranks in a center spread published in the 2006 financial report of no less than the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Department of Finance (DOF),” Atienza said.

Atienza said he remains to be the only mayor of Manila elected for three consecutive terms.

He said during his nine-year administration as Manila mayor, the city enjoyed a “very healthy economy” when taxes were effectively collected and efficiently delivered back to Manilans under his highly commended successful “Buhayin ang Maynila” urban renewal and development program.

During Atienza’s term, he said city hall services were not only felt but experienced. Among others, he said, health centers and hospitals had adequate equipment, facilities and medicines as nutrition programs were also in place.

Young Manilans, especially the poor, were given quality education with competitive standards.

Garbage was regularly collected also and roads were well maintained. “The city had a clean and healthy environment to live in,” he said.

Businesses were thriving as jobs and livelihood opportunities were generated, said Atienza.

“We had a vision and it was pursued and delivered. My performance as Manila’s father is sufficient proof of genuine public service, but lies being peddled about my administration must be corrected. Lies repeated often enough might be perceived as the gospel truth,” he said. – Sandy Araneta

JULY 31, 2009 ABANTE TONITE

Niliwanag din kahapon ni Sec. Atienza ang isyung ibinabato sa kanya na kesyo nabangkarote umano ang lungsod ng Maynila dahil sa kanya.

Ayaw sana niya itong sagutin pero kailangan dahil baka paniwalaan ito ng mga tao.
Nang bumaba siya sa puwesto bilang alkalde ng Maynila nu’ng Hunyo 29, 2007, ang pera sa banko ng City of Manila ay P2.6B. Definitely ay hindi raw bankrupt ang siyudad.
Pinakita niya sa amin ang printed record (Consolidated Daily Cash Position Report mula sa Office of the City Treasurer) na magpapatunay na hindi niya nilaspag ang pera ng Maynila at sangkatu­tak ang salapi ng lungsod pagkatapos ng kanyang full 3-term as mayor.
Bukod doon ay naglabas ng finding ang COA at Dept. of Finance (nu’ng early 2008) ng ratings ng lahat ng local government units sa buong bansa at #1 ang Maynila sa revenue collection. ‘Yun aniya ang distinction ng kanyang administrasyon.

Ngayon, after 2 years ng bagong nanunungkulan ay tila naubos na ang iniwan niyang bil­yones dahil nangutang umano ang pamahalaang Maynila ng P750M (dahil kapos ito sa koleksyon).

“Kung bangkarote ngayon ang Maynila, problema ni Mayor Alfredo Lim ‘yon. Siya dapat ang magpaliwanag. That’s his problem. He has to solve that.

“What I’m saying is, don’t look at me and don’t blame me. Don’t use me as your scapegoat for your failure. If you are failing, you’re answerable to the people.

“I have to correct the lies being peddled because I don’t want people to be misled. Sabi nga, ‘A lie repeated often enough becomes the gospel truth to many!’” ALLAN DIONES

JULY 31, 2009 ABANTE

Naglambing din si Sec. Atienza na tulungan siya ng entertainment press na iparating sa publiko ang reaksyon niya tungkol sa isyu na bankrupt ang kaban ng Maynila at isinisisi ito sa kanya ng administrasyon ni Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Ibinigay ni Sec. Atienza sa mga reporter ang dokumento na magpapatunay na malaking halaga ng pera ang iniwan niya sa Maynila nang bumaba siya sa puwesto.

“Ako’y binabato ng kasinungalingan na hindi tama. Na ang problema ng Maynila ay bankruptcy that was caused by me.

“Siguro, nababalitaan ninyo ‘yon na bankrupt ang Maynila. Na kagagawan ni Atienza kaya wala ka­ming ganito, sira ang mga kalsada, walang gamot sa ospital dahil bangkarote ang Maynila.

“Ayoko sanang sagutin dahil hindi pa naman panahon ng pulitika pero baka lumalim nang lumalim, paniwalaan ng mga tao.

“Kawawa naman ako. Hindi totoo eh. Noong iniwanan ko ang Maynila noong June 29, 2007, ang pera na nasa bangko ay P2.6 billion. Hindi bangkarote ‘yon dahil ‘yon eh money in the bank. Money in the vault.

“Narito ang record na kinuha ko before I stepped out of my office. I made sure that I have the documents that will defend my administration. Parang alam ko na eh, na siguradong magkakaroon ng kasinungalingan.

“Na sasabihin, nilaspag ko. Mismanaged ang Maynila, bangkarote ang Maynila. This is the daily cash position report of the City Treasurer of Manila. Hinugot ko ito sa libro ng City Treasury dahil alam ko na ito ang tanging ebidensya. Ito ang pera ng Maynila when I step down,” ang napapailing na pahayag ni Sec. Atienza. JOJO GABINETE

JULY 31, 2009 PILIPINO STAR NGAYON

Ipinakita nga pala ni Papa Lito sa entertainment press ang mga papeles na magpapatunay na hindi totoo na walang datung ang Maynila nang mag-goodbye siya sa puwesto noong June 2007.

Take note, bumaba si Papa Lito sa puwesto dahil tapos na ang kanyang termino at hindi dahil natalo siya sa eleksyon.

May-I-show ni Papa Lito sa mga reporter ang papel na ebidensiya na P2.6 billion ang kadatungan na iniwan niya sa City of Manila at pirmado ito ng City Treasurer.

Hindi alam kung kaninong kamay napapunta ang datung dahil sinasabi ngayon ng mga nakaupo sa puwesto na bankrupt ang Maynila nang iwanan ito ni Papa Lito.

Paano naging bankrupt ang isang siyudad na may kayamanan na P2.6 billion? May mga pinang­ha­hawakan na ebidensiya si Papa Lito. Saan napunta ang bilyung-bilyong piso na nawala sa kaban ng yaman ng Maynila? Sino ang nakinabang?

Sinabi ni Papa Lito na ayaw sana nito na patulan ang pang-iintriga ng kanyang mga kalaban sa pulitika pero kailangan niyang ipagtanggol ang sarili. Hindi tama na manahimik siya dahil baka maniwala ang mga tao na tinangay niya ang datung ng Maynila.

Naniniwala ako na inosente si Papa Lito sa kasalanan na ibinibintang sa kanya. Ang ganda-ganda ng puwesto niya sa DENR. Puwede niyang dedmahin ang mga nangyayari ngayon sa Maynila pero dahil hindi nga totoo ang mga bintang sa kanya, nagsalita na siya.
LOLIT SOLIS

JULY 31, 2009 PILIPINO STAR NGAYON

Anyway, hindi lang pala ako ang nagre-reklamo sa panget na kalsada sa Maynila. Ayon sa dating mayor ng Maynila, nire-reklamo rin sa kanya ng mga kapit-bahay niya. Ang sabi raw kasi ng local government ng Manila, wala na silang pondo na ikinatataka niya (Atienza) dahil P2.6 billion ang iniwan niyang pera noong matapos ang kanyang termino bilang mayor.

Isa pang nakakaalarmang kuwento ni Sec. Atienza ay ang nakakatakot na oil depot sa Pandacan. Imagine, oras na magkaroon pala ng aksidente sa nasabing oil depot, makakarating hanggang Malacañang ang pagsabog. Nauna na raw sinabi ng Presidential Security Group (na ‘wag naman sana), na kung may masamang mangyayari, hindi nila alam kung paano ililigtas ang pangulo.

Ka-afraid.

Isa si Iskho Moreno sa pumirma ng ordinance na pumapayag na manatili sa Pandacan ang nasabing oil depot kaya nega ang dating niya sa showbiz.

Oh my, ipagdasal na lang natin na walang masamang mangyari sa oil depot dahil apektado ang buong Maynila bukod pa sa masamang epekto nito sa kalusugan ng mga mamamayan ng Maynila. SALVE ASIS

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DENR reform, can it be done? by Dan Mariano

July 31, 2009
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THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE WAS TAKEN FROM THE OPINION SECTION OF THE MANILA TIMES DATED JULY 6, 2009:

BIG DEAL
By Dan Mariano
DENR reform, can it be done?

The country’s natural resources are there for anyone who can harness them for the nation’s good. However, the process has to be closely regulated—otherwise nothing would remain of nature’s bounty very soon.

We nearly did that to the forests that once blanketed the entire archipelago. In just decades, indiscriminate logging led to 90-percent denudation—perhaps more—of our islands. Moreover, it also enriched a handful of individuals whose main advantage was their “right connections.”

Not only did these avaricious villains ravage our forests, they have also denied the rest of the nation from ever benefiting from those resources. How they managed to do so can be attributed in large part to what some economists call the “capture” of regulating agencies.

Ironically, it was precisely because such agencies had the unquestionable power to award licenses and permits that certain influential persons and companies were able to denude our forests—as well as over fish our waters, cause environmental disaster through reckless mining, etc.

The issuance of licenses and permits has been so arbitrary and whimsical that certain strategically situated bureaucrats were able to make a bundle for themselves. All they needed to do was to make life difficult for applicants—and then arrange under-the-table deals with those willing to “come across.”

The more unreasonable the requirements and the more protracted the documentation process, the greater were the opportunities for graft. What’s worse was that those who managed to secure licenses and permits through this illicit route felt entitled to violate the very same restrictions spelled out in their licenses and permits. They felt that since they got their documents illegally anyway, what was to prevent them from exceeding the official limits to their operations? Who was going to stop them? The same bureaucrats they bribed to get their licenses and permits in the first place?

Here is one illustration of how corruption—rooted in bureaucratic inefficiency—accelerates environmental degradation. Thankfully, Secretary Lito Atienza of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has begun to do something about it.
At last week’s the Multisectoral Consultation on Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) System Policy Direction, Atienza candidly acknowledged the presence of crooks in the DENR.

Before dozens of business executives, government officials, leaders of nongovernmental organizations, foreign aid donors and newsmen assembled at the DENR Social Hall, Atienza spoke bluntly.

He said he has learned that applicants for, say, environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) were told by certain DENR employees that their applications were on his desk—but unsigned because “I was allegedly not at my office.” Atienza said, “You are told that they know someone who can get the applications signed but, for the right ‘considerations’ they can get the papers signed by tomorrow.” The businessmen in attendance greeted his remarks with knowing nods—and the DENR chief’s subordinates with embarrassed silence.
Several uncomfortable moments passed. After sensing that his point had sunk in, Atienza declared: “I want to put a stop to graft and corruption in the DENR in order to make the DENR and its services available to all investors and all Filipinos—and not just a few, who can bribe their way through the bureaucracy. Alam n’yo na, ‘yung SOP.”

Atienza said that he is determined to institute drastic reforms in the DENR by, among others, streamlining its operating procedures—starting with the ECCs issued to mining and forestry companies. “These changes, however, will not compromise environmental protection,” he emphasized. “In fact, they will pinpoint accountability.”

Among the reforms proposed by a DENR review panel is a policy that would reduce, Atienza said, from “six months, one year, sometimes never” to just 20 days the issuance of ECCs from the time an application is submitted and officially received.
Releasing non-coverage certificates will be made even quicker—from the current three weeks to just one day. “E hindi naman pala covered, bakit pa natin patatagalin?” he said.
“I assure investors and businessmen, both foreign and local, that the department will undertake reforms that would hasten the issuance of permits by removing unnecessary requirements that would impede their operation,” Atienza said.
“The simplification of the [ECC] procedures is not just about reducing processing time but, more important, [it aims] to strengthen accountability, improve efficiency, remove opportunities for corruption and promote transparency for sustainable development,” the DENR chief added.

Atienza’s announcement was eagerly received by the land developers, officials of mining and forestry industry associations, business groups, NGOs and representatives of international development agencies who attended the consultation.
And why shouldn’t they? Atienza, after all, is widely regarded as one of the best performing members of the Arroyo cabinet—if not the best.

Now, the hard part follows: implementation. All Filipinos of goodwill pray that the DENR and its chief succeed in this effort.

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PANEL TO SAVE LA MESA WATERSHED FORMED

July 30, 2009
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Written by Jonathan Mayuga / Correspondent Business Mirror

EFFORTS to protect the La Mesa watershed got a much-needed boost with the creation of the La Mesa Watershed Multisectoral Management Council, the highest policymaking and oversight body for the protection and management of the watershed.

The La Mesa watershed, the source of Metro Manila’s potable-water supply, has been declared a “watershed reservation” by President Arroyo in 2007 through Presidential Proclamation 1336.

The council came about with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Joint Memorandum Circular 2009-01 issued on July 21. It is headed by DENR Secretary Lito Atienza and includes Quezon City Mayor Feliciano Belmonte and a representative from a nongovernment organization as members.

“The formation of the body is an important step in the process of addressing the current conditions in the area to conserve its water sources,” said Atienza, noting that an earlier study found the watershed at risk from unfettered recreational use.

Atienza gets a two-year term as chairman with the administrator of the MWSS as cochairman.

The 2,700-hectare La Mesa watershed reservation is the holding reservoir for water from upstream watershed areas in Umiray, Quezon, and Angat and Ipo in Bulacan. It supplies most of Metro Manila’s water needs.

Atienza said a “vulnerability assessment” by the DENR-National Capital Region’s research division showed that some 10.12 hectares of the watershed are “geohazard areas” in terms of soil erosion (0.285 hectares), landslide (0.014 hectares), fire-prone (1.141 hectares), and biodiversity loss (8.685 hectares).

Atienza added these hazards will “be addressed as part of a comprehensive La Mesa Watershed Management Plan,” whose preparation is one of the council’s five core functions.

Based on the “profiling and characterization” of its flora and fauna, the area is host to some 520 species of flora, of which four are classified as “critically endangered” or facing certain extinction unless no protective intervention is taken, with 10 and eight species considered as vulnerable and endangered, respectively.

The study also showed at least 90 avifaunal or bird species thriving in the area, five of which are listed as “vulnerable” in the Convention of International Treaty of Endangered Species.

In January 2007 the Marine Environment and Resource Foundation Inc. (MERF), a nongovernment organization of professors and researchers from the University of the Philippines Diliman, concluded that human activities in the area should be kept to a minimum to prevent destruction “of a substantial portion of the La Mesa forest” and the weakening of the water quality of surface runoff and groundwater that will translate to lower quality water in the reservoir.

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THE MINING INDUSTRY AND ITS POTENTIAL TO SAVE THE PHILIPPINES FROM THE GLOBAL ECONOMIC CRISIS by Ric Fian

July 29, 2009
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nvironment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza (left photo) expresses optimism that the country’s mining industry will weather the current global financial crisis during the Asia Mining Congress 2009 held in Singapore. In a keynote address, Atienza told leading mining leaders and investors that the industry’s “fundamentals are sound like high geological prospectivity supported by a globally comparable mining law that promotes responsible mining and the commitment to improve the overall investment competitiveness.” (Photos by Rubelyn Alcantara – Intercom UK Ltd.).

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza (left photo) expresses optimism that the country’s mining industry will weather the current global financial crisis during the Asia Mining Congress 2009 held in Singapore. In a keynote address, Atienza told leading mining leaders and investors that the industry’s “fundamentals are sound like high geological prospectivity supported by a globally comparable mining law that promotes responsible mining and the commitment to improve the overall investment competitiveness.” (Photos by Rubelyn Alcantara – Intercom UK Ltd.).


Looking for a way to shield the country from the impact of the still-raging world financial crisis? The solution may lie under the ground. Geologists from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) estimate that 9 million hectares in the country have high potential for copper, gold, nickel and chromite, which may amount to millions metric tons of mineral deposits which could fetch millions of dollars in the world market.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza confirmed the MGB study, saying the riches of the country’s mineral deposits and other natural resources is now recognized all over the world. “God provided Filipinos with all these natural wealth, making us more fortunate than the people of other countries. No Filipino will ever go hungry if we only develop, manage and utilize our mineral resources sustainably and responsibly. The country’s mineral resources can provide economic development that will lift many Filipinos from poverty,” he said.

He added that a vibrant mineral sector may even turn out to be the country’s ticket to economic modernization and an effective tool in poverty reduction.

Assessment conducted by the MGB shows that mineralized areas in the country cover 9 million hectares, or about 30 percent of the country’s total land area. At present, less than half a million hectares are under exploration or development. This means that 8.5 million hectares or 94.4 percent of the country’s mineralized areas have yet to be developed.

Mineral deposits in these areas include metallic minerals like copper, gold, nickel, chromite, iron, manganese, mercury, aluminum, molybdenum and zinc, and non-metallic minerals such as limestone and semi-precious stones, marble, aggregates, shale, silica, clay, magnesite, sulphur, feldspar, bentonite, zeolite, perlite, asbestos, gypsum and talc.

MGB data shows that the country contains an estimated 83 billion metric tons of mineral ore deposits. These deposits include more than 14 billion metric tons of metallic ore and more than 69 billion metric tons of non-metallic ore that can be found more abundant in the Sierra Madre mountain range in Luzon and in the Mindanao region. In Mindanao , the area from Davao to Butuan City is believed to be the richest mineralized area in the country.

Other areas believed to be rich with gold and copper deposits are Mt. Diwalwal in Compostela Valley in Central Mindanao , Benguet in Northern Luzon and Rapu Rapu island in Bicol. The provinces of Mindoro , Benguet, Zambales, Nueva Vizcaya, Cebu and Leyte also have rich mineral deposits.

The metallic mineral deposits include gold, copper, nickel, chromite, iron, manganese aluminum, mercury molybdenum and zinc while the non-metallic minerals include limestone, marble, aggregates, shale, silica, clay, magnesite, sulphur, feldspar, bentonite zeolite, perlite, asbestos, diatomaceous earth, gypsum, rock phosphate (or guano) and talc.

In gold alone, the country has an estimated ore reserve of about four billion metric tons. Copper ore deposits also are estimated to reach more than 7.9 billion metric tons and 815.3 million metric tons of nickel ore making the Philippines in world ranking 3 rd for gold, 4 th for copper and 5 th for nickel.

Mining Revitalization

In the 1980s, the country’s mining industry experienced dismal performance due to closure, suspension and scaling down of major mining operations caused by low prices of metals in the world market and high labor cost in mining operations.

The contribution of the mining sector — which still provides direct employment to 112,000 people (as of 2003) — has dwindled from a high of 25 percent of total foreign exchange earnings in the 1980s to a mere 1.5 percent in 2003 due to the closure, suspension and scaling down of major mining operations. The number of active mines in the country has fallen from 58 in 1981 to 27 in 1997 and down to 12 (two large-scale mines — Lepanto gold mine and Philex Copper Mine — and 10 medium-scale mines) in 2003.

The resurgence of prices of metals on the world market has pushed up the total value of mineral production. The MGB also said that the increased demand of China for metals and the volatile political situation in the Middle East , particularly in Iraq , may have triggered the substantial increase in the prices of gold, silver, copper and nickel in the international market.

In 2003 President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo launched the government’s Philippine Mining Industry Revitalization Program anchored on the principle of sustainable development and promotion of responsible mining. The implementation of the program shifted to high gear after the Supreme Court reaffirmed the constitutionality of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 on December 6, 2004 .

The Supreme Court’s reaffirmation paved the way for the government to declare that the mining industry is now “open for business”. Allowing foreign investors to tap into the country’s mineral wealth, she ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to enforce all safeguards on the mining industry.

23 Priority Mining Projects

Efforts to jump-start the Philippine mining industry have since gone full blast. Government policies are now directed to removing any remaining stumbling blocks to investment into this sector.

The government has identified 23 promising (priority) mining projects capable of generating $6.2 billion investments and $6.8 billion revenues for a six-year period.

Of the 23 priority mining projects, nine of them are currently operating. These include the following: Palawan nickel project of Coral Bay/Sumimoto, Rapu-Rapu polymetallic project of Lafayette , Canatuan silver-gold project of TVI, Sto. Tomas II copper expansion project of Philex Mining Corp., Teresa gold project of Lepanto Mining, Berong nickel project of Atlas Mining, Masra gold project of Apex Mining Corp., Surigao Integrated Resources Corp., and the PASAR refinery expansion.

The government has also 25 project classified as first-tier priority mineral development projects. Out of the 25, seven are in the construction and development stage, nine in the feasibility or financing stage and another nine in the advanced exploration stage.

DENR 2008 records show that total mining investments coming from 40 processing and 23 mining exploration projects in the country during the period 2004 until the first quarter of 2008 amounted to a total of US$1.45 billion . The DENR records also indicate that another additional potential investments amounting to US$9 billion are expected to shore up mining investments to a total of US$10 billion up by 2011.

Social Development

The minerals industry plays an important role in the country’s social development. It helps improve the lives of the people and mining communities. Even still at the exploration or development phase, the country already feels the positive impact of local and indirect taxes, direct and indirect employment, social infrastructures, environmental improvements and technological developments. Mining companies provide social developments in the communities where they operate. They build roads, bridges, community schools, hospitals, churches and houses for their employees and families. They also provide electricity and livelihood projects to mining communities. The development of mining communities is pursuant to the social provision of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (RA 7942) requiring the company to allocate not less than 90% of its 1% direct mining and milling costs to finance its social development and management program (SDMP).

Economic Contribution

In the midst of the on-going economic crisis, the government looks at the mining sector as one of the brighter spots in its efforts to raise revenues to fight poverty. DENR 2007 records show that the country’s mineral industry posted P97.41 billion in mining gross production output. Mineral exports during 2007 also reached US$2.37 billion, with the government getting P2.1 billion in taxes and fees. Mining also contributed P31.8 billion to the country’s GDP — defined as the sum of all goods and services produced in the country in a particular period — and gave employment to 139,000 individuals.
With the upswing of the investments in the mineral industry seen in the total of US$262- million mining investments posted in the first semester of 2008, the government expects investments in the mining sector to reach $12.6 billion by 2013.

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ECOLOGICAL FUTURE by Alex Magno

July 28, 2009
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THE PHILIPPINE STAR, JULY 28, 2009

For the first time, in any significant way, an electoral battle will be fought almost entirely on an ecological question.

That battle will be fought in the City of Manila where the sitting mayor, Alfredo Lim, supported an ordinance that opens the way for highly polluting industries to set up along the banks of the Pasig River. Manila City Ordinance 8187, passed earlier this year, reversed a prior ordinance that bans polluting industries on the river bank.

The overturned ordinance, enacted during the term as city mayor of Lito Atienza, was the basis for forcing the relocation of the oil depots owned by the three biggest oil players. After long litigation, the Supreme Court finally upheld the City of Manila’s position to regulate pollution and force the relocation of the oil depot at Pandacan.

Removing the oil depot from the banks of the Pasig has been the advocacy of Lito Atienza. Since it is now taken for granted that he will seek to return to as Mayor of Manila after a hiatus dictated by term limits, the controversial Lim-engineered Ordinance 8187 will almost certainly be the main point of contention.

In his advocacy to relocate the depot in order to safeguard the health of Manilans, Atienza enjoys the support of Manila archbishop Gaudencio Rosales. The senior clergyman had tried to apply his influence in dissuading Lim from supporting the controversial ordinance.

Lim had, in fact, promised to veto the ordinance when it came up to him. But in the end, the sitting mayor bowed to pressure from the oil giants and signed Ordinance 8187 — ostensibly because this was the will of the people.

Last week, in a speech before the Philippine Constitutional Association, Atienza indicated that Ordinance 8187 will be the issue on which the mayoral contest in Manila will turn. We all presume, of course, that despite his age Alfredo Lim will be the other major contender for the post.

In that speech, the present DENR Secretary charged that Ordinance 8187, by welcoming extremely hazardous industries to the banks of the Pasig, clearly violated Article 2, Sections 15 and 16 of the Constitution. Those sections mandate government to look after the collective health and well-being of its citizens as well as ensure a state of ecological balance. It is the duty of government to shelter the citizenry from a damaged environment.

The present and future generations of Filipinos, Atienza maintains, depend on prudence in managing the environment. It also depends on strict adherence to the new environmental ethics embodied in the modern laws of the land.

Atienza likewise charges that Mayor Lim’s behavior relating to the matter of the Pandacan oil depot reflects the destructive pattern of political accommodation. Not only does it put the city’s ecological future in peril, it also favors the biggest oil players to the disadvantage of the smaller industry players who observe environmental ethics by keeping their oil stocks away from densely populated communities.

From where Atienza stands, everything is wrong with Ordinance 8187. It is unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, unethical and even unwise as economic policy. By making Manila even less habitable than it already is, the Lim ordinance dooms the city’s economic future. Simply said, no city can be dirty and progressive at the same time.

The matter will be put at the feet of Manila’s voters in the next elections. Here we will see an electoral contest centered almost entirely on a policy issue.

The contest will be a measure of the political maturity the citizens of Manila are capable of.

* * *

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ATIENZA TELLS PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION: DEFEND THE RULE OF LAW

July 23, 2009
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During the July 21, 2009 general membership of the Philippine Constitution Association I urged members of the PHILCONSA to defend the rule of law in an effort to promote order in the country and protect our environment and natural wealth.

In the speech which I delivered, I touched on a very important provision of the 1987 Constitution which clearly defines how the law is closely associated with nature. In Section 16 of Article II, it states that “it is the duty of the State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.”

Based on this stipulation it can be said that anyone who destroys the environment violates the Constitution and therefore, should be meted with punishment according to law.

The approval of City Ordinance No. 8187 in Manila, allowing the continuous stay of the oil depots of the Big Three in Pandacan, violates the Constitution because their continued stay in the area is a threat to human life and the well being of the people.

Section 15 of the Constitution also provides that “the State shall protect and promote the right to health of the people and instill health consciousness among them.”

These are the main reasons reason why I filed a case on June 5, 2009 at the Supreme Court against Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, Vice Mayor Isko Moreno and majority councilors for approving the ordinance which allows highly pollutive and extremely hazardous industries, including the oil depots, to permanently stay in Manila. The case is still pending in court.

I also mentioned to the PHILCONSA members the ongoing streamlining of the DENR in its permitting procedures in order to simplify the issuance of environmental compliance certificates, including forestry and mining permits.

This will remove the unnecessary requirements and the restrictive rules that accompany the permitting system and block the flow of investments into the country.

These changes will not only reduce the processing time for the permits, but more importantly, will strengthen the accountability and efficiency of DENR personnel and remove opportunities for corruption.

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ATIENZA CRACKS WHIP ON LGUs FOR THE CONTINUED POLLUTION OF MARILAO-MEYCAUAYAN-OBANDO RIVER

July 20, 2009
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Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza (center) stresses the need for a collective effort among local government officials in the clean up of the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System, a vital tributary that drains into Manila Bay. Atienza gave the concerned local officials 30 days to rid the river system of garbage, warning them of administrative charges should they fail to meet the deadline. Attending the stakeholders meeting held at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City are representatives of LGUs of Caloocan City, Valenzuela City, San Jose del Monte, Meycauayan, Marilao, Obando and Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza (center) stresses the need for a collective effort among local government officials in the clean up of the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando River System, a vital tributary that drains into Manila Bay. Atienza gave the concerned local officials 30 days to rid the river system of garbage, warning them of administrative charges should they fail to meet the deadline. Attending the stakeholders meeting held at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City are representatives of LGUs of Caloocan City, Valenzuela City, San Jose del Monte, Meycauayan, Marilao, Obando and Sta. Maria, Bulacan.

The DENR has issued a 30-day deadline to local officials to start cleaning up the Marilao-Meycauayan-Obando river system in Bulacan of garbage.

During a stakeholders’ meeting at the DENR Social Hall in Quezon City, I stressed the need for a collective effort among the seven local government units of Caloocan and Valenzuela in Metro Manila, and of San Jose del Monte, Meycauayan, Marilao, Obando and Sta. Maria in Bulacan. The local officials of the said cities and municipalities have been warned that they will be facing administrative charges before the environmental courts should they fail in the rehabilitation of the river system. The Marilao River, which stretches up to 55 kilometers, has been identified as one of the dirtiest rivers in the world by The Blacksmith Institute.

Analysis of the water quality of the river showed excessive levels of heavy metals such as lead, chromium and cadmium, as well as a zero level of dissolved oxygen and exorbitantly high levels of organic pollution. The sources of pollution can also be attributed to heavy industries along the banks of the river such as textile dyeing factories, gold refineries, poultry and livestock growers and food manufacturing businesses.

The continuing mandamus imposed by the Supreme Court last December for Manila Bay’s rehabilitation obligates us at the DENR to take the necessary legal recourse to compel the concerned local government units to do their part in cleaning their rivers whose polluted state directly impacts on the condition of Manila Bay.

At the same time, we called on barangay captains, barangay tanods and other barangay officials to actively help in the clean up effort.

Enough has been done to analyze why the river is dirty, and putting a stop to wanton throwing of garbage into it is the first step.

Last July 9, the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau sent notices of violation to the seven LGUs for violation of Republic Act 9003, also known as the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, ranging for failure to institute measures on waste segregation (Article 2, sections 21 and 22), collection and transport of solid wastes (Article 3, sections 23 and 24) and on the prohibition against the use of open dumpsites (Article 5, section 37).

Among the provisions under the RA 9003 that the seven LGUs violated are segregation of wastes at source; the collection and transport of solid waste; the establishment of LGU Materials Recovery Facilities; and the prohibition against the use of open and controlled dumps.

I made a surprise inspection of the river in Prenza Dam in Marilao last March to personally assess the progress of the river clean up agreed by the concerned LGUs and the DENR, only to be find the presence of garbage, mostly generated by households, floating in the river. The Prenza Dam was literally covered by a mountain of garbage and instead of serving its function as a water reservoir, the dam looked like a badly managed open dumpsite.

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Business leaders unite to revive Pasig River

July 19, 2009
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Business leaders unite to revive Pasig River
By Faizza Farinna Tanggol, The Philippine Star, July 19, 2009

ABS-CBN president/COO Charo Santos-Concio, Ayala Corp. president/COO Fernando Zobel, Manila Water president Rene Almendraz (hidden) and Aboitiz Transport System president/CEO Endika Aboitiz listen during the meeting last July 13 of the Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig. In lower left photo, San Miguel Corp. president/COO Ramon Ang chats with Gina Lopez, managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation.

ABS-CBN president/COO Charo Santos-Concio, Ayala Corp. president/COO Fernando Zobel, Manila Water president Rene Almendraz (hidden) and Aboitiz Transport System president/CEO Endika Aboitiz listen during the meeting last July 13 of the Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig. In lower left photo, San Miguel Corp. president/COO Ramon Ang chats with Gina Lopez, managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation.

MANILA, Philippines – Business tycoons managed to find time from their busy schedules last July 13 to help lead the effort to save Pasig River.

Ayala Corp. president and chief operating officer Fernando Zobel, San Miguel Corp. president and COO Ramon Ang, Aboitiz Transport System president and chief executive officer Endika Aboitiz, ABS-CBN president and COO Charo Santos-Concio, SM Investments vice chairman Tessie Coson-Sy represented by SM Foundation executive director Debbie Sy, Philippine Daily Inquirer president and CEO Sandy Prieto-Romualdez, Philippine STAR editor-in-chief Isaac Belmonte, Globe Asiatique president Delfin Lee, Herma Group of Co. president and CEO Hermie Esguerra, Manila Water president Rene Almendraz, and Maynilad president Babes Singson formed the Advisory Board of Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig, the newest project of ABS-CBN Foundation in partnership with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources through the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) that aims to rehabilitate the Pasig River and its tributaries.

Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig (KBPIP) has focused its efforts on Estero de Paco this year.

“Cleaning of Estero de Paco is very important,” said Gina Lopez, managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation. “If we do it in Paco, we will show it can be done. That success will snowball and pave the way for other possibilities.”

The KBPIP has declared the whole 2.9-kilometer stretch of Estero de Paco as a Clean River Zone.

The KBPIP has already begun the voluntary relocation of the informal settlers living along the banks of Estero de Paco. The families have been moved to “Bayanijuan sa Calauan,” the official resettlement site of KBPIP in Laguna.

The National Housing Authority and ABS-CBN Foundation signed a memorandum of agreement to co-manage the 107-hectare Calauan site.

“I am glad that ABS-CBN Foundation has invaluable partners,” declared Lopez. “Working together really renders significant results. This meeting is really about presenting the Pasig project to the Board and have everyone own it so it will really be a kapit-bisig project.”

The meeting was held at Rockwell in Makati City.

The Philippine STAR has also shown unswerving support for the Pasig River project. Lopez has her monthly column in The STAR where she writes about Pasig River from time to time.

More than that, however, The STAR is linking arms with the KBPIP by providing constant media coverage for its activities and achievements.

“The role of media is key in raising the consciousness of people, in awakening hope,” said Lopez. “With such strong backing from the private sector and media, I have no doubt that we will be able to clean this river.”

* * *

Find out how you can help. Call the KBPIP at its Bayan hotlines 410-2753 to 55 or e-mail at ilogpasig@abs-cbn.com or kapitbisigparasailogpasig@gmail.com. Contribute to Piso Para sa Ilog Pasig by texting GIVE ILOG then send it to 2366 for Globe, TM, Smart, Talk ‘N Text, and Sun Cellular. You may also deposit directly at its BDO account number 393-0078222, Scout Albano branch.


Atienza orders reactivation of DENR anti-smoke belching units

July 14, 2009
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Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Lito Atienza (right) looks at the engine of the liquefied petroleum gas-fueled jeepney at the DENR compound in Quezon City. Three motor vehicles, one turbo-jet type air-conditioned jeepney (Isuzu 4HFI) and two LPG-fueled jeepneys (models 4Y2.4 and 3RZ2.7), were presented by past Filipino Inventors Society (FIS) president Orlando Marquez (left) to Atienza to promote his (Marquez’s) inventions to help the government in its program to improve the air quality in Metro Manila and other urban centers nationwide. The three vehicles were said to be compliant with the DENR emission standards under the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Lito Atienza (right) looks at the engine of the liquefied petroleum gas-fueled jeepney at the DENR compound in Quezon City. Three motor vehicles, one turbo-jet type air-conditioned jeepney (Isuzu 4HFI) and two LPG-fueled jeepneys (models 4Y2.4 and 3RZ2.7), were presented by past Filipino Inventors Society (FIS) president Orlando Marquez (left) to Atienza to promote his (Marquez’s) inventions to help the government in its program to improve the air quality in Metro Manila and other urban centers nationwide. The three vehicles were said to be compliant with the DENR emission standards under the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.

I have directed the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to reactivate its anti-smoke belching units in an effort to lower the air pollution level in Metro Manila within the healthful standards of the World Health Organization (WHO).

I likewise urge the Land Transportation Office and the Department of Trade and Industry to tighten their control on private emission testing centers to put a stop to what is called a ‘no show certification’ in order to minimize the volume of smoke belching vehicles being registered.

Let’s put a stop to the nefarious activity of issuing certificates of emission compliance without actual testing of vehicles. This is where corruption starts because vehicles that have not met the emission standards are eventually registered using the emission certificate as basis. It makes no sense at all how a lot of public utility vehicles (trucks, buses, tricycles) and trucks are able to secure certificates of emission compliance when it is common knowledge that most of these vehicles are the main source of toxic emissions while plying Metro Manila’s roads.

Private testing centers should comply with regulations, or they will be made accountable under the Philippine Clean Air Act (Republic Act No. 8749).

I also ordered the heightened coordination among the LTO, Land Transportation Franchise Regulatory Board (LTFRB), and local government units in Metro Manila to get involved in the anti-smoke belching campaign.

The DENR-ASBU’s reactivation will see action starting on August 1 along the stretch of the Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA) with four apprehending teams and along the 12.4 kilometer Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

I am also calling on local government officials in Metro Manila’s 17 cities to intensify their offensive against smoke-belching vehicles in an effort to bring air pollution levels in Metro Manila within the WHO standard by 2010.

2008 records from the Environmental Management Bureau’s ambient air monitoring stations are as follows:

MRT Pasay- Total Suspended Particles: 272 micrograms per normal cubic meter
Makati- Total Suspended Particles: 310 micrograms per normal cubic meter
East Avenue- Total Suspended Particles: 370 micrograms per normal cubic meter
Valenzuela- Total Suspended Particles: 418 micrograms per normal cubic meter
Marikina- Total Suspended Particles: 240 micrograms per normal cubic meter

WHO set the ambient air quality guideline value for Total Suspended Particulate (TSP) at 90 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm ).

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The fight against smoke belching vehicles in Metro Manila will set the tone of the overall campaign of the effort stressing that winning the air battle in Metro Manila means that we can win it anywhere else.

The renewed campaign by the DENR will run parallel to anti-smoke belching campaigns being embarked by local government units especially those actively running after smoke-belching vehicles passing through their jurisdictions like Makati City which maintains five ASBUs, Pasig City (4), Quezon City (2), Muntilupa (2), and Manila (1).


DENR EYES NINOY AQUINO PARK AS BIODIVERSITY SHOWCASE

July 10, 2009
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Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza (center) seals an agreement with Palafox Associates, represented by its principal architect Felino Palafox (right), for the development of a conceptual master plan that would transform the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center (NAPWNC) in Quezon City as a “biodiversity showcase” for the country’s rich flora and fauna. With over 3,000 species already thriving in the area, of which 100 are endemic to the country, Atienza said the sprawling, 24-hectare park will further be enhanced with better recreational facilities, anti-pollution interventions, including pictures of flora and fauna species that could not thrive in the area, to instill biodiversity conservation consciousness and environmental awareness among park visitors. On hand to witness the signing at the DENR central office in Quezon City is Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Mundita S. Lim (left, standing).

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza (center) seals an agreement with Palafox Associates, represented by its principal architect Felino Palafox (right), for the development of a conceptual master plan that would transform the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center (NAPWNC) in Quezon City as a “biodiversity showcase” for the country’s rich flora and fauna. With over 3,000 species already thriving in the area, of which 100 are endemic to the country, Atienza said the sprawling, 24-hectare park will further be enhanced with better recreational facilities, anti-pollution interventions, including pictures of flora and fauna species that could not thrive in the area, to instill biodiversity conservation consciousness and environmental awareness among park visitors. On hand to witness the signing at the DENR central office in Quezon City is Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau Director Mundita S. Lim (left, standing).

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources today announced plans to transform the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Nature Center (NAPWNC) in Quezon City into a biodiversity showcase for Filipinos.

We have long taken great pride in our wealth of flora and fauna. We have more than 14,000 species of plants. Of these, 9,000 are flowering. Worldwide, we rank fifth in the number of plant species. We also rank fourth in bird endemism, which means that these birds are found only in the Philippines. And we rank fifth in mammal endemism.

The Department’s plan is to make NAPWNC a model biodiversity conservation area in an urban area, where people, particularly the youth, can learn more about Philippine biodiversity and appreciate the necessity of protecting such.

If NAPWNC is developed properly, environmental awareness of park visitors will be enhanced. We want the public to feel the visit to the park as both enjoyable and relaxing and a learning experience.

I recently signed a memorandum of agreement with Palafox Associates, represented by its founder, managing partner and principal architect Felino Palafox, to facilitate the preparation of the NAPWNC Conceptual Master Plan that will include detailed site engineering, landscape architectural design and urban design.

According to the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, there are around 3,000 species of trees that thrive in the country are found inside the park, 100 of which are endemic to the country, such as narra, molave, kamagong and ipil. For flora and fauna which could not thrive in the NAPWNC, pictures of those species will be displayed instead.

Anti-pollution intervention and better recreational facilities will likewise be introduced in the park. The (NAPWNC) is going to be a model for environment showcases that the DENR plans to establish outside Metro Manila.

The DENR already began initial consultations with several local planners to generate ideas that can be included in the agency’s proposed master development plan for NAPWNC.

We’re targeting to finish the plan within four months so development work can commence as soon as possible.

NAPWNC, a favorite weekend site for families and an educational spot for students, boasts of wide picnic grounds, a lagoon and a wildlife rescue center where some of the country’s endangered and/or threatened species of wildlife are undergoing rehabilitation and care.


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