Marcos Year 2

Environmental issues the Marcos gov’t faced in second year in office

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Environmental issues the Marcos gov’t faced in second year in office
From environmental defender killings to the illegal Chocolate Hills structures, here are the environmental issues that the Marcos administration faced in its second year in office

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. underscored in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) in 2023 the importance of making the environment a priority, even stressing that climate change was made an “important criterion” in the country’s national policies, planning, decision-making, and implementation of programs.

This promise was tested in Marcos’ second year as chief executive when he faced several environmental issues, from continued environmental defender killings in the country to ecological damage in the West Philippine Sea.

In some issues, Marcos and his administration played catch-up in addressing the problems, while some issues seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. In its second year in office, the Marcos administration mostly provided Band-aid solutions to long-term environmental issues.

Look back on the year that was for the Philippine environment.

Deadliest country in Asia for environmental defender

A decade later, Philippines still most dangerous country in Asia for envi defenders

For the 10th straight year, the Philippines is still the most dangerous country in Asia for land and environmental defenders, according to a report from nongovernment organization Global Witness.

Deadliest regions in the Philippines for environmental defenders

Out of 334 environmental defenders killed in the country over the past two decades, 132 were from five provinces. ‘Duterte-era’ policies that persist also continue to endanger them.

Other stories on environmental defenders:

‘Review’ of Philippine reclamation projects

DENR set to review reclamation projects nationwide

‘Everything that comes down to us from the Philippine Reclamation Authority would be the subject of the review,’ says Environment Secretary Loyzaga.

Where’s the suspension order for Manila Bay reclamation projects?

It seems like the government needs a group chat to smoothen inconsistencies in the suspension of the Manila Bay reclamation projects.

For one, a suspension order has not yet been made public. Whether such really exists is another question altogether.

Other stories on reclamation projects:

Protecting the Philippines’ natural resources

DENR to stop issuing permits, agreements for use of protected areas

This comes after the DENR suspended its agreement with the Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. that granted the latter use of over 300 hectares of protected land in Surigao del Norte.

In Greece, PH commits to increasing protected areas by 2030

‘To achieve the 30×30 targets by the decade’s end, the Philippines…is dedicated to significantly increasing protected areas on both land and seas,’ says Environment Undersecretary Ernesto Adobo Jr.

Other stories on environmental protection:

Combatting illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing

The poor’s 15 kilometers: Saving municipal waters from big fishing operators

15 kilometers from shore to sea is what small fishers get. Without updated vessel monitoring measures and robust law enforcement, they fear their livelihood is at risk.

Boat, Canoe, Canoeing

Top officials with private interests spoil effort to track big fishers

Gamaliel Cordoba, who headed the NTC under Duterte, has a personal stake in commercial fishing because of his family’s business. During his time, the commission stopped issuing service numbers for trackers that would prevent unregulated fishing.

Body Part, Finger, Hand

Big fishers encroach on small fisherfolk’s municipal waters

Municipal fisherfolk remain among the poorest Filipinos, earning only an average of P363 (US$6.45)* a day, and the possibility of losing preferential access to their fishing grounds poses an added threat to their existence.

Other stories on fisheries:

Mining in the Philippines
Scissors, Weapon

Is the mining fiscal regime bill good for the economy and climate agenda? 

Do the proposed reforms in the mining fiscal regime bill favor the industry, to the detriment of host communities and the government?

Person, Crowd, People

Romualdez firm buying Leyte sand mining company for P5 billion

Bright Kindle Resources and Investments Incorporated, a holding company owned by the family of House Speaker Martin Romualdez, is set to acquire a sand mining company for P5 billion.

Other stories on mining:

Just energy transition in era of climate change

Groups urge gov’t to address mining issues as PH transitions to renewable energy

The Philippine government should address issues in the mining sector as the country joins the transition from fossil fuel-based energy to renewable sources, several groups say.

Photography, Face, Head

EXPLAINER: Recto eyes making companies pay for pollution they create

Finance Secretary Ralph Recto is looking at putting a price tag on carbon emissions. Here’s a rundown of the pros and cons.

Other stories on energy transition:

Waste management and waste workers

Garbage crisis looms with coming closure of Metro Clark landfill in Tarlac

More than 4,000 tons of wastes from 121 LGUs from 8 provinces are being brought daily to the Kalangitan sanitary landfill in Capas, Tarlac.

Clothing, T-Shirt, Bbq

Waste workers demand fair wages, treatment as they form national alliance

The formation of the national alliance is called by groups as a ‘significant move for labor rights and environmental justice.’

Other stories on waste management:

Kusiong tragedy

Disaster in Kusiong landslides: How politics killed non-Moro IPs 

Forced to vacate their shoreline homes in 2020, Teduray residents were buried in mud after fatal landslides triggered by Severe Tropical Storm Paeng hit them in October 2022. Private resorts have since taken over, one of them owned by a political family.

Art, Person, Modern Art

When fighting for ancestral lands hits a dead end 

Since 2005, the Tedurays have been lobbying for the government’s formal recognition of their ancestral domain. The urgent priority should be the approval of an IP Code to address these land issues.

Other stories on Kusiong Tragedy:

10th anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda

A decade later: 15% of Yolanda houses unfinished, thousands unoccupied

Three presidents have taken their seat in Malacañang yet tens of thousands of houses for Yolanda-hit communities remain incomplete.

Part 2: Water, electricity issues bog Yolanda relocation plans

In many housing sites, Yolanda survivors make do without water connections in their homes. These problems partly explain why some 30% of built housing units are unoccupied to this day.

Other stories on Yolanda’s 10th year:

Another year, another COP
Water, Waterfront, Architecture

Philippines gets a seat in inaugural board of loss and damage fund

This has been a ‘long time coming’ after the Philippines spent decades ‘at the forefront of the negotiations for the loss and damage fund,’ says Philippine Environment Secretary Toni Yulo-Loyzaga.

Can the Philippines be a strong voice again at UN climate talks?

For years, the Philippines has had a strong voice and was a big player in climate negotiations – until Duterte happened. Under Marcos, a climate expert says ‘we’re finding that voice again.’

Other stories on COP28:

Disaster preparedness in disaster-prone PH still wanting
Nature, Outdoors, Sea

Flood-prone lifelines: Critical facilities at risk of flooding in Negros Occidental town  

Rappler’s data analysis of HazardHunterPH data shows that Sipalay has the most number of schools that double as evacuation centers during disasters, with a very high risk of flooding in Negros Occidental.

Art, Collage, Adult

Moving flood-prone gov’t facilities out of harm’s way is costly, time-consuming

Experts say that moving all critical facilities away from flood zones is a complex process, and finding a solution that checks all the boxes takes time.

Water, Waterfront, Person

Climate-vulnerable PH fails to fully spend disaster preparedness funds – study

Local governments tend to be ‘reactive’ in their disaster spending, greatly underspending funds intended for more preemptive, long-term programs, according to an Oxfam Pilipinas study.

Other stories on disaster risk reduction and management:

Chocolate Hills resort controversy
Body Part, Finger, Hand

DENR strips regional offices of power to grant ECC in protected areas

Pending and future environmental compliance certificate applications within protected areas will now be escalated to the Environmental Management Bureau at the DENR’s Central Office.

Ombudsman suspends Bohol governor, 68 officials over Chocolate Hills mess

A resolution to repeal previous Protected Area Management Board orders that allowed structures in the Chocolate Hills Natural Monument, is already in the works, says Department of Environment and Natural Resources regional executive director Paquito Melicor.

Architecture, Building, Hotel

TIMELINE: The Chocolate Hills resort controversy

Built on protected areas, the resort operated for months without an environmental compliance certificate and managed to get a business permit and a renewal.

Other stories on the Chocolate Hills resort controversy:

Environmental damage in West Philippine Sea

AFP suspects China of massive coral harvesting in West Philippine Sea

The Armed Forces of the Philippines raises the alarm over what they suspect to be massive illegal harvesting of corals in Rozul Reef located in the West Philippine Sea.

PCG: China should be held accountable for environmental damage in Pag-asa Island

A Philippine Coast Guard official says China should be held accountable for environmental damage in and near Pag-asa Island (Thitu), located 300 nautical miles from Palawan.

Nature, Outdoors, Water

Scientists, economists, lawyers want to put price on damage in West Philippine Sea

Experts from different institutions come together to survey the resources in the West Philippine Sea in the hope of providing a ‘framework or method to assess the damage’ in the area.

Nature, Outdoors, Water

SolGen mulls bringing China to Hague anew over coral reef destruction

The Office of the Solicitor General’s latest move stems from the authorities’ discovery of extensive damage in the marine environment frequently visited by Chinese ships.

Weather’s too hot to handle for Filipinos

Philippine heat has always been a problem – and it’s going to get worse

Data shows that various areas in the Philippines have already been experiencing high heat index levels for the past 10 years.

Soil, Ground, Land

El Niño triggers job losses, lower crop yield

The Philippines’ agriculture sector sheds 318,000 jobs in March 2024 compared to the prior month.

Architecture, Building, School

Marcos says gov’t eyeing shift to old academic calendar in 2025

Originally, the education department announced a gradual transition to the old academic calendar, laying out a five-year transition timeline.

In Philippine classrooms, weather’s too hot to handle

While there are no studies yet that show the extent of learning loss for weeks of class suspensions, Philippine Business for Education executive director Justine Raagas says that long school breaks could result in learning loss.

Other story on extreme heat:

Lorenz Pasion/

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