MANILA, June 8 – An additional 34 corporate and local government entities are set to sign with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) this month their respective agreements on cleaning up waterways through the agency's Adopt-an-Estero program to help save such resources from further degradation and to reduce disaster risk of communities concerned.
DENR said such entities include Atlantic Gulf and Pacific of Manila Inc., Filinvest Land Inc., James Hardy Philippines Inc., First Gas Power Corporation, Absolute Distillers Inc. and Antipolo City government.
DENR Secretry Ramon Paje said the signing of the agreements would be held in Malacanang, with President Benigno S. Aquino III himself as witness.
"This proves we already reached the pinnacle of environmentalism in the Philippines," Paje said during a program for the agency's silver anniversary celebration on Friday.
Representatives of the corporate and local government entity-partners as well as former Chief Justice Reynato Puno were present during the program.
Puno left an environmental legacy in the judiciary by creating green courts and helping lay down rules for issuing the writ of 'kalikasan,' DENR noted.
He commended the DENR for its environmental protection efforts, noting these helped put the Philippines on the world's environmental map.
"We're already considered world-class in terms of environmental protection — that hasn't happened before," he said during the anniversary program.
Puno also said that he has recommended to President Aquino the inclusion of DENR's achievements in his 2012 State-of-the-Nation Address next month.
"What DENR is doing must be known to every Filipino," the country's once highest magistrate said.
Though already retired from the judiciary, Puno assured supporting DENR's environmental protection initiatives so these can be even more effective.
He's on the board of trustees for the heroes' foundation the DENR is setting up to help the relatives of its personnel who died in the line of duty.
In 2010, Paje came up with the Adopt-an-Estero program so DENR can partner with various sectors in cleaning up the country's waterways.
Latest available DENR data show the agency and its water clean-up partners already signed as of May 29 this year 275 water clean-up agreements since the 'estero' program commenced.
Such agreements cover over 150 water bodies in the country.
Under the program, DENR's partners clean up their chosen waterways or portions of these using their own resources.
DENR complements such efforts by educating communities concerned on the need to avoid polluting such waterways.
The agency's Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is implementing the Adopt-an-Estero program.
DENR earlier scheduled the new agreements' signing on June 8, 2012 when the agency celebrated its 25th year.
"We decided moving the signing ceremony to June 19 this year, however," said EMB Director Juan Miguel Cuna.
He noted that DENR reached such decision after Malacanang confirmed accommodating the agency's silver anniversary celebration with President Aquino in attendance.
The Chief Executive is on official business abroad and will be back in time for DENR's anniversary celebration at Malacanang.
His mother, former President Corazon C. Aquino created the DENR in 1987 through Executive Order 192.
Paje considers EO 192 as being "pioneering in vision at that time of integrating the twin objectives of natural resources management and environmental protection under one agency." (PNA) scs/CJT/utb