Officer in charge bares DENR priorities | Inquirer News

Officer in charge bares DENR priorities

/ 05:30 AM March 01, 2022

Acing Environment Secretary Jim Sampulna, for story: Officer in charge bares DENR priorities

Acing Environment Secretary Jim Sampulna (Photo from the Facebook page of DENR)

MANILA, Philippines — As Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu stepped down from his post, the officer in charge (OIC) of the country’s environment department vowed to continue his predecessor’s biggest projects, including the Manila Bay and Boracay rehabilitation programs, and reforestation and biodiversity conservation efforts.

In a press conference on Monday, acting Environment Secretary Jim Sampulna said he was directed by President Rodrigo Duterte to “protect the environment” and to continue Cimatu’s 10-point agenda to rehabilitate the Manila Bay and pursue efforts for greening, solid waste management, mining and biodiversity, among others.


“We will continue that and I think the department has already been doing a good job on that,” he told reporters. “I will report to you by June.”


Cimatu, a former military general who oversaw the rehabilitation of both Boracay Island and Manila Bay, had resigned his post last week due to health reasons.

Started as tree marker

Sampulna started his career at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the age of 20 as a tree marker based in Cotabato City for the Bureau of Forest Development in 1977.

Two years later, after graduating as a government scholar from Notre Dame University with a bachelor’s degree in Commerce, he was promoted to budget examiner.

In 1988, he was promoted to chief regional development specialist of DENR-12. Since then, he has been slowly but consistently moving up the ranks. In 2013, he was named as a regional director.

In 2019, he was named undersecretary of the DENR, first for enforcement and special projects and later handling different other offices. His last stint as undersecretary was for mining, Muslim affairs and attached agencies before he was named OIC of the department effective Feb. 17.

With only three months ahead of him, Sampulna’s major focus is to rehabilitate the historic bay and make it “swimmable” before the Duterte administration ends.


While coliform levels in the bay have already drastically declined from billions or millions of most probable number per 100 milliliters (mpn/100ml) in 2020 to mere hundreds-thousands at press time, he acknowledged that the department still has a long way to go before it can fulfill its mandate.

Sanitary landfills

The department is also looking at completing the second phase of the beach nourishment project using dolomite sand, even though Congress had not granted the DENR budget to buy new dolomite sand under the 2022 General Appropriations Act.

For now, Sampulna said his priority was to build sanitary landfills while also finalizing the list of nonenvironmentally acceptable products and packaging, an overdue 20-year-old mandate contested recently before the Supreme Court.

He also vowed to strengthen reforestation efforts under the government’s national greening program and to replicate the Boracay rehabilitation program in other major ecotourism and protected areas.

Sampulna assumes the post as forest rangers in the Masungi Georeserve Foundation were attacked by people allegedly working for resort owners in the reforestation area.

The foundation has been urging the DENR to take a more proactive role in the dispute.

For now, the department only promised to review the memorandum of agreement it signed with the foundation in 2017 under the late Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.



Cimatu resigns as DENR chief due to health reasons

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TAGS: DENR, Jim Sampulna, Roy Cimatu

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