DENR to check rivers for coliform content amid polio outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019   •   559

Filipino residents cross a hanging bridge along the polluted water of Pasig river in Manila, Philippines, 31 May 2018 (issued on 04 June 2018). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct testing of water samples from all rivers across the country amid the ongoing outbreak of poliovirus.

The test is to determine the quality of and coliform content in the country’s bodies of water after water samples from the sewerage system in Tondo, Manila and Davao city tested positive of poliovirus.

According to DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered all its regional offices to submit the results as soon as possible.

“Hahanapin namin ang mga pipes na nagtatapon sa mga rivers para masiguro natin na hindi na madagdagan pa ang polusyon ng river (We will trace the pipes that discharge directly into the rivers to make sure that pollution level in our rivers will not escalate),” Antiporda said. – MNP (with details from Grace Casin)

Confirmed polio cases in PH climb to 16 – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   January 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday said it recorded four more confirmed cases of polio, bringing to 16 the total number of cases since the outbreak was declared in September 2019.

The DOH said two of the new cases were from Maguindanao – both males, two and three years old, as reported by the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The third case is a two-year-old boy from Sultan Kudarat while the fourth case is a three-year-old boy from Quezon City.

The children were said to have manifested with fever, diarrhea, muscle pain, asymmetric ascending paralysis and weakness of extremities.

In light of this, the DOH reiterated its call for parents to have their children vaccinated against the disease through its Sabayang Patak Kontra Polio (SPKP) campaign.

The department said the campaign’s succeeding rounds are scheduled from January 20 to February 2 in all regions of Mindanao, and from January 27 to February 7 in the National Capital Region.

“I urge all parents and caregivers of children under five years old to take part in the coming SPKP campaign rounds scheduled in your respective areas. Have your children, including those with private physicians or pediatricians, vaccinated with oral polio vaccine by health workers and bakunators,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement.

“Additional polio doses can provide additional protection to your children. There is no overdose with the oral polio vaccine,” he added.

In September 2019, the department confirmed the re-emergence of the disease in the Philippines 19 years after it was declared polio-free by the World Health Organization.

COA flags DENR over failed National Greening Program

Marje Pelayo   •   January 8, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The government’s National Greening Program launched by the Aquino Administration in 2011 is a five-year project which aimed at planting 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of forest land in the country.

However, based on the findings of the Commission on Audit (COA) in December 2019, only 12% of the target area has been planted up to this date.

Based on COA’s assessment, there was a problem with the former administration’s strategy and planning as the number of personnel was smaller as compared to the scope of the job.

Most trees ended up dying due to lack of care.

Some may have survived but they are among trees fit for agroforestry such as cacao.

“Ang pinakamalaking problema talaga is maraming hindi nag survive. Bakit hindi nag survive? Iyong wrong timing of planting, tapos wrong species and at the same time, of course, ang climate change (The biggest problem really was many didn’t survive. Why? Due to wrong timing and wrong species. At the same time, climate change),” the official explained.

At present, COA said, only about 7M hectares remain as forest land in the country which is only about 41.5% as compared to the scope of forest lands in 1934.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said there is no use blaming the former administration for what happened to the program.

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said they are now working on ways to accomplish the program’s target.

“Magkakaroon ng impounding area for water and soil para lang sa pangangailangan nitong NGP natin, (We will establish impounding area for water and soil as required by the NGP,)” he said.

“This are the preparations na hindi nila nakita noon, (which they failed to note in the past,)” he added.

COA explained in its report that indeed immediate action is necessary to accomplish the program but it careful planning is also important.

The DENR agrees and is planning to reach out and seek the help of the communities in the target areas.

“Ngayon community based tayo. Itong community na ito kung ilang ektarya ang kaya niya, doon tayo. Hindi sapilitan ang gagawin, (We will do community based approach. We will determine how many hectares a community can accomplish planting. It will not be mandatory,)” Antiporda explained.

The officials said they are prioritizing bamboo for the initial phase of the tree planting as it easily grows and has variety of use.

COA recommends the use of drones to accurately identify the target areas for tree planting. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DENR to push for more sanitary landfills to solve PH garbage problems

Marje Pelayo   •   January 2, 2020

A Filipino scavenger carries a sack full of reusable materials at a garbage dumpsite in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines, 17 April 2009. EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is pushing for the construction of additional sanitation landfills in the country.

Environment Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the Department will be needing P7 billion to kick start this project which targets 248 districts across the country.

Antiporda believes such a project would provide a swift solution to the garbage problem in the Philippines and use technology for the benefit of the environment.

Based on the record of the DENR Environmental Management Bureau, the country has a total of 187 sanitary landfills.

“Puwedeng gawing methane iyan. Iyong harvesting ng methane doon sa basura pwede ring gawin. Mayroon na tayong waste to energy [conversion],” Antiporda said.

The official said they only have P1-B for the Department’s recyclable projects.

They are planning to include the budget request for that project in next year’s proposal.

Payatas dumpsite has been one of the busiest sanitary landfills that cater primarily to Metro Manila.

However, the government ordered it closed in 2017.

At present, Metro Manila wastes are being dumped at Rodriguez dumpsite in Rizal.

Another concern, Antiporda said, is the rehabilitation of Manila Bay that is being delayed by continuous contamination from irresponsible garbage disposals in creeks.

Based on government data in 2016, more than nine 9,000 metric tons of garbage were collected from Metro Manila alone, followed by Regions 4A and 3.

About 57% of those collected were domestic wastes.

The World Bank in a 2012 study predicts that in 2025, garbage generation in the Philippines will increase by 165%. – MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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