Press Release
August 25, 2016

Villar reminds DENR officials to work for the protection of the environment

Presiding over the first meeting of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, Sen. Cynthia Villar reminded officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and its attached agencies, not to let conflict of interest get in the way of fulfilling their mandated task of protecting the environment.

During the committee's organizational hearing, Villar exhorted the officials in attendance to "let the economists take care of the economy; be the environmentalists who take care of the environment."

Villar, who chaired the Committee on Agriculture and Food last Congress, said that while it is the first time that she will be chairing the environment committee, she is not new in facing and addressing matters regarding the environment and natural resources.

The lady senator mentioned the Sagip Ilog or the River Rehabilitation Program in Las Pinas City that revived the Zapote River and the Las Pinas River. The project won the prestigious United Nations-Water Best Practices Award in 2011. The initiative not only succeeded in cleaning the rivers, it also resulted in livelihood projects for the city residents.

Coconut husks collected from the river were processed to become coco coir used for slope protection. Water lilies were likewise collected, dried and turned into useful crafts, such as baskets, slippers, hampers, andbanig.

Kitchen wastes were also collected from households and recycled to become organic fertilizer. At present,60,000 kilos of organic fertilizer were produced monthly and distributed for free to farmers and vegetable gardeners. The composting centers greatly helped in realizing millions of savings on the city's garbage hauling expenses.

Villar has always been vocal about her opposition against the reclamation of Manila Bay which will destroy the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Eco-Tourism Area, a Wetland of International Importance as listed by the Ramsar Convention.

In 2011, together with Las Pinas residents, she asked the Supreme Court to issue a Writ of Kalikasan to block reclamation projects in the area. She also sought the opinion of an hydrologist who stated that reclamation in the area will cause flooding as high as eight meters in surrounding communities of Las Pinas, Paranaque and Cavite.

As a weekly activity, Villar conducts clean-up and mangrove tree planting activities in LPPCHEA and Gasangan, Baseco Compound. She also established a recycling center in Las Pinas that churns out waste plastics into arm chairs that she distributes to public schools all over the country.

Villar said like her stint as agriculture chair, where she worked for the enactment into law of six legislations of national significance and 10 laws creating multi-specie marine hatchery/ nurseries nationwide, she vowed to work for the passage of bills for the protection of the environment. She said she intends to prioritize the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, Pasig River, and the Laguna Lake.

"We will study the Greening Program and find ways how we can improve it. l will also look into the the implementation of relevant laws such as the Solid Waste Management Act," she added.

Villar also gave the assurance that her advocacy in helping farmers and fisherfolk become more competitive through the Villar SIPAG (Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance) farm schools in Las Pinas and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, will continue.

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