The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) assured Friday that they remain relentless in their mandate to conserve the country’s natural resources amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Despite restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) still managed to carry out its mandate to monitor compliance with laws on clean water, clean air, and solid waste management,’’ said the DENR in a statement.

DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu stressed that the pandemic should not be an excuse “for dropping guard against violators of environmental laws, rules, and regulations.”

In the midst of the pandemic, Cimatu emphasized that the DENR should be more vigilant and aggressive against “against these lawbreakers due to what they perceived as relaxation of enforcement of environmental laws, which is really not the case.”

To ensure compliance with Republic Act 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act, the EMB has enhanced its monitoring of 8,572 industries and maintained 101 real-time air quality monitoring stations (AQMS) nationwide in 2020.

“All AQMS recorded that the country’s air quality, particularly in terms of particulate matters 10 and 2.5, are within the standards of 60 micrograms and 25 micrograms per normal cubic meter, respectively,’’ the DENR added.

This year, the EMB formulated, updated, and monitored 22 airshed action plans. 

It also issued 211 certificates of conformity to new vehicles compliant to Euro IV standards in the first semester of the year.

Although only one additional water quality management area (WQMA) was declared this year, EMB updated and monitored the existing 36 WQMAs in compliance with RA 9275 or the Philippine Clean Water Act.

To ensure the water quality of existing water bodies, the EMB has conducted continuous ambient monitoring of 42 priority rivers, 315 other water bodies and 39 priority bathing beaches. 

“It also classified 52 water bodies and monitored compliance of 4,960 firms and industries in the first semester of the year,’’ the DENR noted.

On the implementation of RA 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, the EMB assisted 598 barangays in establishing their respective materials recovery facility (MRF) and supported the operation of 24 functional MRFs.

Meanwhile, the DENR-led National Solid Waste Management Commission (NWSMC) has approved a total of 106 solid waste management plans this year, bringing the total to 1,063 since RA 9003 was enacted in 2001.

It also monitored the implementation of 670 closure and rehabilitation plans, as well as the actual closure and rehabilitation of 204 dumpsites.

Source: Manila Bulletin (