DENR to check rivers for coliform content amid polio outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019   •   1123

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)

DOH urges parents to avail of free polio, measles, rubella vaccination until Feb. 28

Marje Pelayo   •   February 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging parents to have their children vaccinated against common but highly contagious viral diseases such as measles, polio, and rubella.

The DOH is constantly promoting the government’s Measles-Rubella and Oral Polio Vaccination Supplemental Immunization Activity (MR-OPV SIA) and its related activities which are in their second phase.

The said immunization program launched on February 1, covers regions in both Luzon and Visayas and is scheduled to run until February 28.

Reports from the agency revealed that as February 21 this year,  73% (3,721,186 children) of nationwide targets have been vaccinated against measles and rubella.

Meanwhile, 72.9% (3,483,423 children) have been inoculated against polio. 

As of February 21, the target number of children left to be vaccinated remains above 1.3 million for measles and rubella vaccine and 1.2 million for oral polio vaccine. 

With only four days left in the immunization program, the DOH urges all parents and guardians of children to participate in the free immunization program. 

“We can decrease the prevalence of cases of measles, rubella, and polio through vaccination. These vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective for over 40 years, and parents need not have second thoughts,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Above all, we can prevent unnecessary deaths that are caused by these illnesses. This is why we have tirelessly been urging our mothers to have their children vaccinated,” he added.

The DOH, together with development partners and concerned local government units, is immensely determined to double down on efforts to achieve the 95% target coverage to achieve herd immunity from vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles, rubella, and polio.

“We call on our local government units, who have better access to their constituents, to pitch in and assure our mothers that our health centers are safe places where they can get their children vaccinated. As long as we are able to comply with our minimum public health standards, as well as the protocols of the health centers, we can be protected from COVID-19,” Duque said.

Wildlife conservation must continue amid pandemic —DENR

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reiterated the need to continue wildlife conservation even amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

This was after a nesting sea turtle was sighted in Zambales province. DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu also reported several sightings of nesting sea turtles were in other areas.

“Even if we are faced with a difficult situation brought about by the threats of the disease, we must continue to strive to protect and preserve our endangered pawikan,” he said.

He added that the sightings prove that the efforts of conserving wildlife was not in vain.

The DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Olongapo City also received a report that sea turtles laying eggs were spotted at a beach resort in San Antonio town.

The DENR said they will monitor the situation of these nests to protect them from poachers and illegal wildlife traders.  AAC

DENR orders bamboo planting along Cagayan River to prevent floods

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the planting of bamboo trees along the banks of Cagayan to help prevent a repeat of the floods that submerged parts of Cagayan and Isabela provinces during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

The DENR said Cimatu issued that directive following a meeting with the Build Back Better Task Force created by President Rodrigo Duterte to oversee the rehabilitation of areas devastated by recent typhoons.

Cimatu co-chairs the task force with Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.

Cimatu told the DENR regional offices in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and CALABARZON to ensure the availability of bamboo planting materials and to identify areas along the river channels that are most suitable for bamboo propagation under the government’s Enhanced National Greening Program.

The DENR chief said they picked bamboo as it is ideal for stabilizing riverbanks given its high survival rate.

“The survival rate of bamboo is much higher and it has a faster growth rate compared to other trees,” he said, adding that bamboos also have the potential to be “a sustainable source of livelihood for the people of Cagayan Valley while protecting the integrity of Cagayan River.”

In the same meeting, Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona said the DENR’s move to plant bamboo trees offers an opportunity to look into the economic importance of bamboo.

Lantayona said the DTI has been producing engineered bamboo, but its facilities cannot operate at full capacity because there is currently a lack of bamboo supply.

“Cimatu’s push to mainstream engineered bamboo as a major alternative to timber will finally enable the full implementation of Executive Order (EO) 879,” she said.

Under EO 879, at least 25 percent of the annual requirement of school desks and chairs of all public elementary and secondary schools nationwide should be made of bamboo.

It also directs the DENR – through its Forest Management Bureau, Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Laguna Lake Development Authority – to use bamboo as the planting material for at least 20 percent of its annual reforestation and rehabilitation areas.

“This should be done especially in provinces and towns which are engaged in or have the potential to engage in bamboo-based industries or where trees are difficult to grow because of poor site quality, susceptibility to erosion or adverse and steep gradients,” the DENR said.

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