SECRETARY CIMATU’S MAIN PRIORITY IS TO IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF OUR ENVIRONMENT, PARTICULARLY OUR AIR, WATER AND ADDRESS SOLID WASTE PROBLEMS. THUS, THE DENR WILL BE IMPLEMENTING ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION PROGRAMS AND PROJECTS. FOR GEO-HAZARD, GROUNDWATER ASSESSMENT AND RESPONSIBLE MINING, OUR PRIORITY ACTIVITIES ARE THE FOLLOWING: (1)REHABILITATION OF ABANDONED MINES; AND 2) ASSESSMENT OF COASTAL GEO-HAZARDS AND GROUND WATER RESOURCES.
This program intends to capacitate communities to their adaptation to geologic hazards, as well as provide them critical data on groundwater resources. The program has two (2) components, namely:
1. Geohazard Assessment
The National Geohazard Assessment Program was implemented to generate information on susceptibility of areas to geologic hazards. The assessment is focused on rain-induced landslides, floods, flashfloods, ground subsidence or sinking, and other forms of slope instabilities that are not directly induced by earthquakes or volcanic activities. A 1:50,000 scale geohazards assessment program was completed in 2010 while the detailed geohazard assessment in the 1:10,000 scale was completed in 2014. Thus, the assessment of the 1,634 cities/municipalities of the entire country was already completed.
Complementation activities are carried out with other national government agencies to address other hazards that are also of critical importance in terms of impact. For Y2015 and onwards, the Program will concentrate on the massive campaign to disseminate the digitized geohazards map sheets (at 1:10,000 scale) to 42,029 (NSO 2014) barangays nationwide complemented with massive information and awareness campaigns on geohazards mitigation and reduction. Hand in hand with the intensified IEC effort, updating and re-assessment of the geohazard mapping would be undertaken over municipalities/cities affected by recent or resurgent natural events. This will be particularly important over regions located alongthe Eastern Seaboard of the country which are traditionally prone to these events. To further optimize the usefulness of the geohazards maps, Risk analysis and Vulnerability assessment would be undertaken over highly critical and priority areas of the country. Starting with 35 municipalities/cities in Y2015, the program would cover 200 nationwide in 2016 to provide the necessary technical inputs to LGUs for the updating and modification of the Comprehensive Land Use Plans (CLUPs), project development and disaster preparedness, management and mitigation programs. These shall integrate climate change impact and establishment of community-based early warning systems.
The sub-surface assessment was also initiated in 2015 to determine subsidence hazards and sinkhole in karst areas. It was done in response to the 7.2 intensity earthquake that hit Bohol in 2013. Fifteen (15) cities/municipalities in the provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Iloilo, Benguet and Davao del Norte have been prioritized in 2015. Another 15 cities/municipalities is targeted annually starting 2016 and beyond.
Coastal geohazard assessment on areas which are highly and critically prone to erosion and accretion of the country starts Y2015 with 166 coastal cities/municipalities. Universe of 844 coastal cities/municipalities are expected to be completed by Y2019. Inputs on these are relevant on the concerns relating to shoreline shift and relative sea level changes due to impact of climate change.
2. Groundwater Resource Assessment
The National Groundwater Resources and Vulnerability Assessment is conducted to determine the availability of groundwater resources and the threats to contamination and depletion.
It covers two main aspects: the resource assessment component, and the vulnerability component. Areas that are periodically affected by water shortages and those whose water supplies that are under constant threat of depletion and water quality deterioration shall be prioritized. It shall cover a regional assessment (per province for Y2016-2019) and a local assessment (per municipality levels for Y2019 onwards). In terms of the regional scale, the program shall generate a 1:250,000 scale hydrogeologic and groundwater availability maps and update the existing ones. Field surveys and mapping on the city/municipal scale shall be carried out on a 1:50,000 scale or better depending on the needs of particular sites or areas. This will integrate climate change impacts in some critical areas that will be identified during the assessment such as changes in sea level which might affect groundwater resources in the coastal areas and effect of the reduction in the recharge of the groundwater due to drought. Particular emphasis will also be placed on characterizing the vulnerability of the groundwater resource to human impact on the environment such as over-extraction, pollution from industries and deterioration of viable aquifers or reservoirs due to land degradation and surface development.
This ensures the implementation of responsible mining practices in the minerals industry. It involves the monitoring of mining permits/contracts to determine their compliance with the Safety and Health, Environment and Social (SHES) provisions of the Mining Act of 1995, as well as the approved exploration/development/construction/operating work programs. The audit of the SHES and work program monitoring system is also a component of this strategy. To further ensure the compliance of mining permits/contracts, the operationalization of Multipartite Monitoring Teams is also undertaken. Illegal mining activities are addressed thru the issuance of cease and desist orders, and the consequent filing of charges in the Provincial/City Prosecutor’s Office. Lastly, complaints/cases/conflicts are likewise addressed.