Davao Region is endowed with rich natural resources as well as an environmental condition that is most befitting to human habitation.The ladder of development which the six cities in Davao Region steadily climbed in the last few decades trigger the transformation which is now enjoyed by locals, tourists,  investors and the like.  Transforming the countryside into an urbanized hub, however, involved caution particularly, in terms of balancing the economic development vis-à-vis environmental protection.

Our environmental laws can be construed as set of measures that provide equilibrium in order to attain development, which is sustainable and that will allow future generations to experience and enjoy the natural resources and quality of environment that we are now enjoying.

It is in this context that EMB through its regional offices is strictly implementing the six mandated national environmental laws namely:  (1)  Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System (PD 1586), (2) Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Waste Control Act of 1990 (RA 6969), (3) Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 (RA 8749) (4)  Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003), (5) Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004 (RA 9275), and (6) Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008 (RA 9512).  Compliance monitoring of ECC conditions is strengthened and capacity building for Pollution Control Officers and Managing Heads are regularly conducted in line with the DENR Administrative Order 2014-02, “Revised Guidelines for Pollution Control Officers” and as part of the overall strategy to improve the compliance of industries.

The environmental setting in Region XI contributes in shaping its satisfactory investment image which is demonstrated in the 38% increase in the ECC issued from 288 in 2016 to 399 in 2017. Understandably, Davao City being the center of commerce in Davao Region has the highest number of issuances followed by Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley Province, Davao Oriental and Davao Occidental.

The implementation of online processing of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) and Certificate of Non-Coverage (CNC) applications pursuant to Memorandum Circular No. 2015-008 and Memorandum Circular No. 2015-003 respectively complement the objectives to simplify the requirements and procedures and facilitates in the processing of ECC and CNC applications which likewise encouraged investors thereby improving the number of issuances region-wide.

The air quality monitoring in the Region is focused in the Davao City Airshed where five (5) air quality monitoring stations are located specifically in the following areas:  Bugac, Ilang (Amparo Subd., Purok 5-A, Bugac approx. 70m from Amparo St., and 300 m; Barangay 12-B (At the front of the barangay hall, Brgy. 12-B, V. Mapa St., Davao City); Davao Memorial Park ( Davao Memorial Phase 2, approx. 800m from the main gate at McArthur Highway); Toril Plaza (At the open park in front of Toril District Hall, approx. 50m from Agton St., Davao City); Calinan National High School PMS (Duyac St., Calinan, Davao City) and Davao International Airport (Sasa, Davao City).   These areas housed most of the stationary, mobile and area sources of pollution in the city  and   also recorded the highest population density in the entire region.  Since 2004 when EMB XI started monitoring the said areas, the air quality of the Region in terms of criteria pollutants, are still within the National Ambient Air Quality Guideline Values (NAAQGV).

Thirty two (32) rivers in the region was classified and one (1) river was proposed for classification namely, Mayo River in Davao Oriental.  Mayo Bay  was also proposed to be officially classified in CY 2018 .   There will be four (4) more rivers that will be classified and the portions of Davao Gulf in Davao del Norte up to Compostela Valley area including Kopiat Bay and coastal waters of Island Garden City of Samal. Twenty-two (22) water bodies are regularly monitored either on a monthly or quarterly basis.

To date, there are two designated Water Quality Management Areas in the Region namely,  Davao River Water Quality Management Area (DR-WQMA) and the Talomo River Water Quality Management Area (TR-WQMA).  For CY 2017, the Davao River WQMA Governing Board  made a significant milestone in its advocacy campaign of protecting the designated rivers like conducting the first Poster Making and Amateur Photo Contests with the theme “Davao River, Our Water, Our Life” and the conduct of benchmarking on the successful WQMA in Region VI in Iloilo City. While in Talomo River WQMA,  additional stations were established to have  more comprehensive water quality monitoring in the  said river.

On the other hand, parameters such as Temperature, pH, Dissolved Oxygen (DO), Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), Chloride, Color and Fecal Coliform were monitored monthly. Other parameters like Nitrate-N, Phosphate-P, Cadmium Copper, Lead and Zinc were also monitored on a semi-annually.        Based on the 2017 monitoring results, there was an exceedance of fecal coliform in some water bodies. The uptrend level could be linked to lack of septage and sewerage system in the city.  Non-conformance also were observed in paramaters like Total Suspended Solids, Nitrates and Phosphates and it could be attributed to surface run-off during heavy downpour.

Recreational waters monitoring program expanded the monitoring of EMB-XI monthly monitored twenty (20) bathing beaches located in the City of Davao and IGACOS. With the implementation of DENR Memorandum Circular 2015-06 dated May 15, 2015, the monitoring of bathing beaches has expanded up to  Davao del Sur area namely, Sta. Cruz, Digos, Padada and Hagonoy areas.

The Adopt-an-Estero/Waterbody program implementation was also strengthened in Region XI.  Regular quarterly synchronized clean-ups were supported by various private sectors and concerned Local Government Units. Conduct of tree plantings were also initiated.  Since 2010, there were already forty one (41) adopted waterbodies and another four (4)   adopted waterbodies were added during the  year namely, Wee Sin Yen Creek, Sto. Domingo Creek, Quinokol Creek and Mawab River for renewal of commitment.

The implementation of Toxic Chemicals and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act of 1990 (RA 6969) is further intensified.  In 2017, Chemical Control Order (CCO) registration was issued to 39 industries of which thirty-five (35) were for Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), two (2) for Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS) and one (2) for Cyanide. Three (3) companies were issued with Importation Clearance (ICs) for Cyanide.  On the other hand, there were 113 registered Hazardous Waste Generators, 11 Hazardous Waste Transporters and 12 Treatment, Storage and Disposal (TSD) facilities.

The relentless joint effort between Environmental Management Bureau and Local Government Units collectively brought to plan and take action to address the solid waste problem of the region.  Activities supporting solid wastes management are extensive with the Local Government Units in the forefront and the EMB Regional Office providing technical assistance.   Region XI is comprised with 54 local government units which comprises 43 municipalities, 6 cities and 5 provinces which were mandated to submit their respective 10-Year Solid Waste Management Plan (SWMP) to the National Solid Waste Management Commission (NSWMC).  Technical assistance was provided to LGUs  for the preparation of the Safe Closure and Rehabilitation Plan of their open/controlled dumpsites of which some were  converted into Eco-parks.   The region-wide database is being updated to determine the overall picture of the regional status of implementation of Ecological Solid Waste Management.  Continuous monitoring and validation at identified model LGUs enforcing and implementing the four aspects of RA 9003, namely Segregation at Source; Segregated Collection; Established and functional Materials Recovery Facility (MRF); Establishment of the Sanitary Landfill and/or Alternative Technology.   The Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) City Ordinance is enforced to support the “no segregation, no collection policy”; ban the use of non-bio plastic bag for food and beverages and the use of non-environment friendly packaging.   Moreover, the Davao Regional Ecology Center is strengthened and its member agencies are continuously capacitated.  In addition, provision of funding assistance to LGUs for the purchase of shredders and establishment of MRF help improved their performance. The “Bayan Ko, Linis Ko” Program brought together the LGUs, NGAs, industries, civic organizations and academe in trying to eradicate solid wastes particularly in the waterways.

To effectively  enforce the implementation of RA 9003,  the Basura Patrollers’ capabilities were upgraded into Solid Waste Enforcers and Educators Team (SWEET) under the Solid Waste Enforcers and Education Program (SWEEP) through participation in trainings and workshops prior to deployment.  In addition to their regular functions, the SWEET also  conducts information drive at the barangays.

On the other hand, the implementation of SWEEP is in line with the role of the DENR to provide technical and other capability building assistance and support to the LGUs in the development and implementation of local solid waste management plans and programs (Section 8e, RA 9003) and to exercise visitorial and enforcement powers to ensure strict compliance with the Act (Section 8g, RA 9003).  The purpose of the program  is to mobilize Barangay Solid Waste Management Committee to implement the ESWM Program and created an active and involved ESWM community through the SWEET.

Heightening public awareness encompasses environmental laws, sharing of environmental best practices, threats of environmental degradation and its effects to humans and the value of conservation, protection and rehabilitation of natural resources through enforcement of RA 9512 otherwise known as “National Environmental Awareness and Education Act of 2008”.   Adhering to the concept of environmental awareness, local and international events were implemented in collaboration with national government agencies, local government units, private sector and the academe.

By and large, linkaging with concerned entities or stakeholders has been and will always be elemental in coming up with holistic implementation of the six (6) environmental laws under the jurisdiction of the EMB either in the national or regional level.  Collaboration and complementation of efforts among different sectors are necessary for speedy results, maximum use of resources and greater impact.  This system has been practiced in the region and is strengthened under the Private Public Partnership Program of the Department.