DENR-6 cancels environmental events, Love Boracay 2020 due to COVID-19

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has prompted the environment department to cancel all its scheduled events in March 2020.

In the light of the proactive move by city and provincial governments of Iloilo to protect its people from the local transmission of COVID-19, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) decided to cancel all of its environmental events.

“We have to obey the rules and protect ourselves from this dreaded virus that is now gripping the world with fear. It is necessary for us to cancel our scheduled events for the month as protecting life is more important right now,” DENR-6 Regional Executive Director Francisco E. Milla Jr. said.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas issued Executive Order (EO) No. 50-A (an amendment to EO Nos. 042-A and 050) series of 2020, while Iloilo Governor Arthur R. Defensor Jr. signed EO No. 028-C, series of 2020 to protect the residents in city and province of Iloilo and prevent the spread and/or local transmission of COVID.

Travel restrictions, discouraging mass gathering, school suspension, observance of social distancing and community quarantine procedures are all provided in the two signed EOs.

In support of these initiatives, DENR-6 cancelled activities for March namely the International Day of Forests (March 21), World Water Day (March 22), Earth Hour (March 28) and Women’s Month activities (March 1-31).

As to the observance of Earth Hour, Atty. Ramar Niel V. Pascua, Regional Director of Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), issued an advisory encouraging everyone to still take part in the global lights off event by turning off all non-essential lights in their homes, establishments and offices on March 28 from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

As a preventive measure, the DENR-6 management also provided alcohol and sanitizer of all employees, suspended the holding of flag rites and use of biometrics, closed the canteen for two weeks until April 14, and put up three Designated Receiving Areas (DRAs) at the Courtyard (regional office), at the Surveys and Mapping Division, and at Manuel L. Lagunilla Compound Ground Floor Lobby for those with documents to bring.

Personnel are also discouraged to receive personal visitors or bring family members in the office.

This week, the DENR 6 has also adopted the four-day work week scheme in compliance to Memorandum Circular (MC) No. 2020-02 signed by DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu.

The Memo Circular provides for the alternate working arrangements to ensure safety of the personnel while continuing to deliver essential services of the Department despite the COVID-19 threat.

Also, the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has decided to cancel “LoveBoracay” 2020 events after the March 12.

Also present in the meeting presided by DENR USec Ernesto D. Adobo Jr. were Malay Mayor Frolibar Bautista and TF member alternates.

Secretary Roy A. Cimatu heads the task force.

LoveBoracay is a weeklong series of events celebrating the rehabilitation of the world famous island. It is slated for April 26 to May 2. But this time, it has to be cancelled.

DENR USec Benny Antiporda, when interviewed by the local media after the meeting, disclosed that “since the COVID-19 situation has not improved, and with the health of the attendees, organizers and stakeholders, a primary consideration, the BIATF has decided to cancel this event.” (DENR-6)