By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – All forestry officials in Northeastern Mindanao or Caraga region had been ordered to lead in massive tree planting in watershed areas.
The officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in Caraga region are also ordered to solve the issues on timber poaching and mining.
“Massive tree planting must take place and illegal logging and illegal mining operations must be stopped here,” stressed Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, in a meeting on Thursday with the key DENR regional officials here and those assigned in the five provinces and six cities in this region.
The DENR secretary installed on Thursday Atty. Felix Sagomez Alicer as the new regional director of the DENR Caraga Region 13, with a tall order to solve the issues on mining and timber poaching.
Cimatu also ordered the new region’s DENR chief to lead his men in the rehabilitation of the Taguibo Watershed in Butuan City which is the source of potable water of close to half-a-million city inhabitants.
“This is your marching order. The Taguibo Watershed must be planted with rich endemic species to improve the supply of water.“Secretary Cimatu told Alicer in his remarks at a ceremony held at the DENR 13 Learning Center in Barangay Ambago, Butuan City.
Alicer replaced regional director Charles E. Fabre who was assigned as PENRO of Negros Oriental province based in Dumaguete City.
It was a moment of surprise for both officials who until the day of the turnover remained blind of their new assignments. Outgoing Fabre had been requesting the top management to put him back to his old unit at the PENRO Office in Dumaguete City to be near his family.
Cimatu approved his request and signed the special order at DENR regional office ordering him to report as PENRO of Negros Oriental. “I am very happy with my new assignment,” Fabre said.
“I am leaving Caraga Region whose personnel and staff I have learned to love and enjoy working with,“ he added.
On the other hand, the incoming regional director said he would “try to sustain if not surpass the accomplishment of his predecessor. “I am not expecting the personnel to love me but I will try to reach them to love me so that together we can move in harmony and accomplish the tasks ahead of us,“ he said.
His message had drawn applause and approval from the audience. Even Cimatu was awed by Alicer’s remarks calling him “a versatile speaker” at the middle of his remarks before the DENR personnel.
Cimatu admitted the DENR is “weak in enforcement of environmental laws.”
“We have the forestry and mining laws in place,” he said. “We have the Clean Air Act, Solid Waste Management, laws on pollution, laws on bio-diversity but these existing laws need to be enforced and strengthened to protect and preserve our environment and natural resources,” the DENR chief stressed.
He specifically reminded the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers (CENRO) in the region to do their job.
“Our performance will depend on you. If you fail, we all fail” Cimatu told the CENRO officers who were standing while he was delivering the last part of his message. “I would rely more on the CENRO to carry on the talks,” he said, adding, “You are at the frontline, the ones who win the battle“.
Cimatu said he would strengthen the working force of the CENRO by deploying more personnel and hiring of more lawyers to assist the field offices in the enforcement of environmental laws.
The DENR secretary said he wants to professionalize the career paths of the potential leaders who want to become CENR officer but should undergo one month rigid training at the DENR Training School in Caranglan, Nueva Ecija and pass the trainings and interviews before he can be appointed to the position.
In his sneak visit here in Caraga region on Thursday, Secretary Cimatu was accompanied by Undersecretary Ernesto D. Adobo Jr., Biodiversity Management Bureau director Mundita Lim, director of Human Resource Development Service Rolando R. Castro and Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Atty. Michelle Go.
Tags: Butuan City, Caraga region, Community Environment and Natural Resources Officers (CENRO), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Manila Bulletin, Northeastern Mindanao, tree planting