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DOST Undersec Dr. Solidum on Boracay's Environmental Issue
by Marcelle P. Villegas - March 19, 2019
Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr., Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change of the Philippines, Department of Science and Technology (DOST). He is also the Officer-In-Charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) [Photo by Marcelle P. Villegas]
MANILA HOTEL, 11 December 2018 -- It was the first day of GEOCON 2018 by the Geological Society of the Philippines. During the event, Philippine Resource Journal has this exclusive interview of Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Jr. regarding his scientific views regarding Boracay’s water and beach pollution. This is one of the most conspicuous environmental issues of this famous beach.
Dr. Solidum is the Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change of the Philippines, Department of Science and Technology (DOST). He is also the Officer-In-Charge of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) where has worked since 1984 and became its Director in 2003 up to February 2017.
During the interview, he mentioned an important aspect of marine biology and ecology that most people are unaware of. He explained how the chemicals from shampoos and soaps are not merely chemical pollutants but as well as substances that cause disorder in the equilibrium of the marine ecosystem. This imbalance eventually triggers more pollution in the sea and coastline. “Well, essentially the problem in Boracay and many other beaches is that people are not aware that the normal things that they do might actually harm the environment. They need to be educated on why this is so.”
“For example, let me just say going back to Boracay, that the prime resource of Boracay is the white beach sand. However, people do not know, especially the tourists or even the locals, that the beach sand is not provided by the erosion of the limestone of Boracay. It is actually provided by the corals growing on the water, and so the breaking up of the corals provide the beach sand. Also, the corals actually serve as barrier in the shoreline from strong waves that can cause erosion.”
Regarding the types of wastes found in the water and beach, he adds, “The problem is, due to the rapid utilization of Boracay and the untreated waste, the waste can be of several forms. One is the actual waste that would go down on the septic tanks or not at all. Another is simply the washing of our own bodies and clothes using shampoo and soap. Shampoo and soap for example have phosphorus. Phosphorus is part of the fertilizer. So if it reaches the water, that would cause the proliferation of the algal growth of the blue-green algae.”
In Biology, blue-green algae are also knowns as Cyanobacteria or Cyanophyta. These are a group of plant-like bacteria capable of photosynthesis. Blue-green algae have a symbiotic relationship with other organisms in the aquatic environment and have many important functions in the environment. One of them is nitrogen fixation in the atmosphere which assists plants in creating proteins and nucleic acids which are essential for a plant’s survival. However, moderation is vital to maintain balance in nature. Therefore, a rapid, abnormal growth of the blue-green algae causes pollution. This is called “algal bloom” where the sea water is dominated by blue-green algae. These blooms can be toxic and can lead to closure of beaches.
Moreover, Dr. Solidum explains how algal bloom can be destructive, “The sign of pollution is not only the fecal coliform which you don't see, but if you see that there is blue-green algae [in the water], then that's polluted.” In this statement, he is referring to an algal bloom which is manifested by greenish scum visible in the water. Fecal coliform on the other hand are microscopic organisms which are not visible to the naked eye. Both algal bloom and fecal coliform presence in the water are toxic and unsafe for drinking or swimming.
How does an algal bloom affect the coral reefs? “When the blue-green algae grow, they would suffocate the corals or will cause the corals to die. And so, if corals die, they won’t be able to produce the sand grain to preserve the beach. Then the stronger waves shall now reach the beach and can cause further erosion. So in the past two decades, Boracay has been eroded by 40 meters,” said Dr. Solidum.
“Actually the move of the President and the Government and supported by everyone to close Boracay and treat the water are very good but that has to be maintained. People have to play their part. From the presentation [in GeoCon 2018 about sand and water pollution in Boracay], there are three E's in this kind of job. One is Engineering Solution -- you have to treat the water… or somewhat related, Bioengineering. It is not simply the septic tank hard core but there can be bioengineering.”
“Second is the Education -- how people should contribute so that pollutants will not reach the ground or the water, and three is the Enforcement. This refers to the regulatory actions.”
“Therefore, education is key because everyone has to play a role. If people are not educated as to the cause of the pollution and to the effect of the pollution, people will take things for granted. So it starts from education. Sometimes people will take shower around the beach and wash their clothes with soap or use shampoo and that's dangerous. And people do not know. I was actually the one who briefed the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management on the reason why shampoos and soaps should not be used while in the beach or water. These findings are done by the specialists and not by me. I learned it (algal bloom effect) from them.”
Dr. Solidum is the Chairperson of GeoCon 2018 from which he his message, “There are many differences in our focus of work or interest but when GEOCON comes, this event allows us to share what we have learned from our studies or gain new knowledge from others. It brings to light what we think will be relevant to us and our fellow geologists. It is a venue for highlighting opportunities and bridging gaps and interests for the benefit of our profession and society.”
Dr. Solidum has a degree in BS Geology from University of the Philippines, finished his M.Sc. in Geological Sciences from the University of Illinois, Chicago, plus his Ph.D. in Earth Sciences from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, CA.
In recognition of his contribution to disaster risk reduction in the Philippines, Dr. Solidum has several notable awards such as the Presidential Citation for Public Service, the Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award (Civil Servant) by the Civil Service Commission, the Professional of the Year in the Field of Geology by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), the Excellence Award for Government Service by the Philippine Federation of Professional Associations and the Presidential Career Executive Service Award by the Career Executive Service Board.
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Philippine Resources - June 29, 2022
DENR Awards MGB with Plaque of Appreciation for the Success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation
Photo: The MGB Boracay Island Rehabilitation Team together with former DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu Four years after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) spearheaded the rehabilitation of the Boracay Island, the DENR Acting Secretary and Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) Chair Jim O. Sampulna CESO I awarded the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) a Plaque of Appreciation for its valuable contribution to the success of the Boracay Island Rehabilitation during the BIATF’s culminating event on June 16, 2022. Boracay Island is one of the most developed and densely populated karstic islands in the Philippines. The extensive alteration of its natural landscape, as well as the alleged discharge of wastewater into the sea, posed a major environmental concern, prompting its temporary closure on April 26, 2018. The BIATF then launched the rehabilitation of Boracay island to safeguard its sustainable development. As part of the BIATF, the MGB team, led by Lands Geological Survey Division (LGSD) Chief Liza Socorro J. Manzano, was composed of technical personnel from the LGSD of MGB Central Office and the Geosciences Division of MGB Regional Office No. VI. The team conducted studies on hydrogeology, coastal geohazards, karst subsidence hazard, and geophysical investigations using Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) and georesistivity. The highly specialized studies sought to provide a holistic understanding of the island’s karstology and the impacts of tourism development to ensure that the rehabilitation efforts of the government are predicated on the ecological sustainability of the small island karst. Ultimately, the results of the GPR investigation on pipes discreetly disposing wastewater and polluting the seawater of Boracay which resulted in the discovery of their existence and eventual dismantling of the same is a "game-changer" relative to the implementation of science-based strategies and crafting of policies for appropriate wastewater and solid waste management in the island. Article courtesy of the MGB
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Philippine Resources - January 30, 2023
PHILEX MINING GEARS UP FOR EXPANSION, SIGNIFIES INTEREST IN MACAWIWILI
In photo at the signing of the term sheet between PMC and MGMDCI were: (seated, left to right) Felicisimo A. Feria, Jose Ma. S. Lopez, and Michael L. Escaler, all representing MGMDCI; Manuel V. Pangilinan, Philex Chairman; and Eulalio B. Austin Jr., Philex President and CEO; (standing, left to right) Atty. Katrina Janine Sta. Ana, Associate, Migallos & Luna Law Offices; Atty. Bryan George Manzano, Associate, Migallos & Luna Law Offices; Atty. Michelle Carisse Balois, Partner, Feria Tantoco Daos Law Offices; Atty. Daneia Isabelle Palad, Partner, Migallos & Luna Law Offices; Atty. Winston Cruz, Vice-President and General Counsel, Philex Mining Corporation; Romeo B. Bachoco, Senior Vice-President and Chief Finance Officer, Philex Mining Corporation; Atty. Marilyn A. Victorio-Aquino, Director, Philex Mining Corporation; Atty. Barbara Anne C. Migallos, Director and Corporate Secretary, Philex Mining Corporation and Partner, Migallos & Luna Law Offices; Atty. Raymond Francis Jamora, Associate, Feria Tantoco Daos Law Offices; and Atty. Michael John Tantoco, Jr., Associate, Feria Tantoco Daos Law Offices. (PMC photo) Philex Mining Corporation, one of the oldest and largest copper and gold producers in Southeast Asia, recently set into motion its plans for expansion with the signing of a Term Sheet with Macawiwili Gold Mining and Development Co., Inc. (“MGMDCI”) in simple ceremonies in Makati City. Macawiwili Gold Mining and Development Co., Inc. is a 90-year old company engaged in mineral exploration and production in Itogon, Benguet. With over 800 hectares of contract area under its Mineral Production Sharing Agreement, the Company has been exploring various mineral deposits, including gold and copper, for several decades. The Term Sheet outlines the parties’ clear intentions to explore commercial, financial, and technical avenues in preparation for possible shares acquisition by the Company in MGMDCI. Activities to kick off this partnership will include conduct of due diligence and scout drilling activities on the property of MGMDCI covered by Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) in Itogon, Benguet Province., located adjacent to the existing Padcal Mine of the Company. Signing the Term Sheet on behalf of the Company were Manuel V. Pangilinan, Chairman, and Eulalio B. Austin Jr., President and CEO; while representing the shareholders of MGMDCI were Michael G. Escaler, Jose Ma. S. Lopez, and Felicisimo A. Feria. The signing was also witnessed by directors and officers of the Company as well as counsel for both parties. “Our interest to pursue investments in the Macawiwili property” according to Eulalio B. Austin, Jr., President and CEO, “is part of our business direction for this year to broaden interest in ‘green metals’ through mergers and acquisitions.” “We need to hit the ground with this at the soonest possible time,” Austin adds, “considering that this property is adjacent to our Padcal mine and would go a long way in fulfilling company plans for expansion and extension of the life-of-mine of Padcal. “This is a good addition or extension to the Padcal Mine,” according to Manuel V. Pangilinan, Philex Chairman. “I hope that this is the start of something good and that it would ride the wave of higher metal prices in gold and copper.” Pangilinan emphasized that “any addition, expansion, or extension to the Padcal Mine would greatly benefit not just our employees and their families, but also our host and neighboring communities, and our nation as a whole.” Article courtesy of the Philippine Stock Exchange
Philippine Resources - January 30, 2023
DMCI Holdings, SMPC among best governed PLCs
Photo caption (left to right): SMPC Corporate Governance and Compliance Manager Joseph D. Susa, DMCI Holdings Board Advisor and SMPC Independent Director Honorio O. Reyes-Lao and SMPC SVP, Chief Risk, Compliance and Performance Officer Junalina S. Tabor. Diversified engineering conglomerate DMCI Holdings and its energy subsidiary Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (SMPC) were among the Philippine listed companies recognized for their corporate governance performance by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). DMCI Holdings received the 2 Golden Arrow recognition while SMPC was awarded the 3 Golden Arrow recognition. Both have been ASEAN Corporate Governance Scorecard (ACGS) Golden Arrow awardees since 2019. The awards were conferred after the two companies exhibited observable conformance with the Philippine Code of Corporate Governance and internationally recommended corporate governance practices as espoused by the ACGS. The ACGS measures the performance of the companies in the areas of facilitating the rights and the equitable treatment of shareholders, how they relate to their different stakeholders, ensuring transparency and accountability through timely disclosure of material information, and how the board guides the company strategically, monitors the management, and ensures the board’s accountability to the company and the shareholders. Over 80 Philippine listed companies were feted during the in-person awarding ceremony in Sheraton Manila Hotel last January 20. Article courtesy of the Philippine Stock Exchange
Philippine Resources - January 30, 2023
DOTr to prevent more delays in PNR Clark Phase 2 project
Photo credit: DOTr The Department of Transportation (DOTr) will work closely with the contractor of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Clark Phase 2 project to ensure that issues are addressed after its projected completion date was delayed by eight months. In a statement on Monday, the DOTr said the project, initially slated for completion in June 2024, has been delayed until June 2025 due to the delay in the turnover of the land to project contractor POSCO Engineering & Construction. “Before the 36-hectare site was turned over by the government to POSCO, several fruit-bearing trees were cut down, causing the delay,” it said. About 48 buildings and facilities are expected to be built by POSCO at the project site, meant to be the Clark Depot of the North-South Commuter Railway (NSCR). “As of December 31, 2022, more than 33% of the planned construction has been completed,” it said. In addition to buildings and facilities, the Clark Depot will have 33 stabling tracks to serve as the parking areas for the trains and 12 other tracks to access maintenance facilities. During a site visit at the project site, DOTr Secretary Jaime Bautista said the Clark Depot is where the operations control center will be located which will serve as the “heart of operations” of the rail service. “It is important that we complete this as planned and on time. I know that there are issues that need to be resolved. The DOTr will work closely with [the contractor], so we can fix problems and address issues,” Bautista said. The 53-kilometer PNR Clark Phase 2 is the second leg of the NSCR and will link multiple cities and municipalities in Central Luzon with Metro Manila. Funded by the Asian Development Bank, the project is seen to cut travel time between Malolos City in Bulacan province and Clark, Pampanga province from 1.5 hours to 30 minutes. This part of the NSCR also includes the Airport Railway Express Service that will connect Makati to the Clark International Airport through a 55-minute train ride. Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
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