HEHERSON T. ALVAREZ
Heherson T. Alvarez is the newly appointed Presidential Adviser on Overseas Filipino Communities. He was Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). He was elected Representative of the 4th District of Isabela in 1998 and was the principal complainant in the impeachment case filed against former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada.
One of the youngest delegates in the 1971 Constitutional Convention, he was first elected to the Philippine Senate in 1987 and was reelected for another six-year term in 1992. As a lawmaker, he has distinguished himself as an ardent environmentalist, economist, and social reformer.
He was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary Plenipotentiary to the U.S. but refused the offer of permanent ambassadorship to become Minister of Agrarian Reform of the Aquino Government in 1986.
He studied Liberal Arts and Law at the University of the Philippines and holds a Masters in Economics and Public Administration degree from Harvard University, USA. He has a Doctorate of Environmental Science (Ph. D., Honoris Causa) from the Mindanao State University.
The leading voice on the environment in the Philippine Senate and the House of Representatives then, and in the country as a whole, he is responsible for all major pieces of legislation on environmental protection. These include:
• Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park Act (RA 9215), protecting the country's last remaining virgin forests and pristine waters, including the many plants and animals that thrive in it such as the Philippine Eagle, the dugong, and many others.
• Solid Waste Management Act (RA 9003), the first measure signed into law by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, which promotes ecological waste management and creates necessary institutions for its implementation.
• Clean Air Act (RA 8479) setting standards for ambient air and emissions from all air pollution sources and strengthened the government structure for implementation and enforcement.
• National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act (RA 7586), provides for the establishment and management of the NIPAS for the
preservation of national parks, virgin forests, bird sanctuaries and wilderness areas.
• Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan (RA 7611) adopted the SEP for the protection and enhancement of the natural resources and the endangered environment of the province, which is known to be the country's last frontier.
• Resolution Declaring April 22 of every year as Earth Day in the Philippines
Through his active intercession, the Philippine Senate ratified various international environmental agreements, such as:
• Montreal Protocol on Substances the Deplete the Ozone Layer
• UN Framework Convention on Climate Change
• Ramsar Convention on Wetlands of International Importance
• Bonn Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals
• UN Convention on Biological Diversity
• BASEL Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Wastes
His comprehensive package of proposed measures pending in the 11th Congress address the entirety of environmental degradation, including:
• Smoking Ban Act
• Clean Water Act
• Total Commercial Log Ban Act
• Land Use Act
• Community-Based Forest Management Act
• National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) Act
• Wildlife Resources Conservation Act
• Revision of the Environment Code
• Biomedical Waste Control Act
• New Pollution Control Law
• Mangroves Protection and Conservation Act
• Creation of Special Environmental Courts
• Indigenous Oil and Gas Act
• Energy Conservation Act
• Geothermal Act
Hon. Alvarez has also endeavored to provide focus on environmental concerns in several important legislation:
RA 7638, or the law that created the Department of Energy
• Sec. 5. Powers and Functions. - The Department shall have the
following powers and functions:
a. Formulate policies for the planning and implementation of a comprehensive program for the efficient supply and economical use of energy consistent with the approved national economic plan and with the policies on environmental protection and conservation and maintenance of ecological balance…;
b. Develop and update existing Philippine energy program which shall provide for an integrated and comprehensive exploration, development, utilization, distribution, and conservation of energy resources, with preferential bias for environment-friendly, indigenous and low-cost sources of energy…"
RA 8550, or the Philippine Fisheries Code of 1998
• "Sec. 47. Code of Practice for Aquaculture. - The Department shall establish a code of practice for aquaculture that will outline general principles and guidelines for environmentally-sound design and operation to promote the sustainable development of the industry.
• Sec. 48. Incentives and Disincentives for Sustainable Aquaculture Practices. - The Department shall formulate incentives and disincentives, such as, but not limited to, effluent charges, user fees and negotiable permits, to encourage compliance with the environmental standards and to promote sustainable management practices."
He authored the following laws that helped spur socio-economic and political growth that are integral to a comprehensive program to promote sustainable development:
• Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law (CARL)
• Department of Energy Law
• Downstream Oil Industry Deregulation Act
• Export Development Act
• Expanded Quedan Corporation
• Revised Charter of the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation
• Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act
• Cooperative Development Authority
• Cooperative Code of the Philippines
• National Commission on Culture and the Arts Law
• Continuing Registration of Voters
• Anti-Pilferage Act
• Indigenous People Rights Law (IPRA)
His important measures, among others, approved on Third Reading in the 11th Congress:
• Omnibus Electric Industry Restructuring Act
• Anti-Racketeering-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act
• Anti-Trafficking in Filipino Women Act
ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY AND ACTIONS
• In 1993, He initiated the signing of the "Healthy Air Pact", an agreement voluntarily entered into by the three major oil companies which paved the way for the reduction of the lead content in gasoline, from 0.6 g/l to 0.15 g/l, the reduction of the sulfur content of diesel, and eventually for the introduction of unleaded gasoline in February 1994. Since then, an estimated 260 tons of lead in the atmosphere have been removed annually, and about P538 million savings on health costs have been realized.
• He secured the support of President Ramos for contests on Cleanest and Greenest Cities/Municipalities which were adopted by the Department of Local Government and of Department of Education, Culture and Sports for revival of water bodies, cleaning of markets and school campuses.
• As Founding Chairman of the EarthSavers Movement, he initiated the DREAMS Academy as its training arm and supported the Earthsavers DREAMS Ensemble, a group of physically-challenged and under- privileged, but talented youth, actively involved in rehabilitation and social integration activities. A model of environmental education through the arts and media, the group received rave reviews for their effective eco-education messages at the Social Summit in Copenhagen Habitat in Istanbul, World Youth Festival/Conference for the Year of the Oceans in Lisbon and World Environment Day Forum in Seoul. A drama serial on Population produced by Earthsavers with UNFPA Assistance was cited as a soap opera for social change in a CNN documentary by Barbara Pyle.
• He successfully rallied the entire country in a 40-day vigil, including a signature campaign, to call for a stop to the nuclear testing in the Mururoa atoll in French Polynesia.
• He convened the GLOBAL YES-Youth Earthsaving Summit and the Global Indigenous Cultural Olympics Summit (GICOS) to forge partnership between youth and indigenous peoples, to reconcile cultural survival with technological advances as a symbolic vision for sustainable development.
• He initiated the project for regreening and protecting the Cagayan River watershed with participation of Suma Ching Hai International.
• He initiated the Laguna Lake Clean Up Project whereby the LLDA, the Local Government Units, the business and the NGO sectors undertook the cooperative activities towards a cleaner and greener Laguna Lake watershed. Through this effort, the Laguna Lake and Mt. Makiling Commission was created for the implementation of a master plan.
• He authored and published environmental monograms, including various Earthsavers Manuals, a bilingual eco-book, videotape plugs, and audio tapes of songs to support public education in environment. He has also assisted and facilitated the development of a new Soap Opera for Environment with ADB assistance.
• He has liaised with Philippine Business for Environment and Management Association of the Philippines to promote public acceptance of the "Polluters Pay" principle and appreciation of the systems for environmental and natural resources accounting (ENRA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA).
Affiliations with International Environmental Organizations and Projects
• Vice-President for Southeast Asia of the prestigious London-based Advisory Committee on the Protection of the Seas (ACOPS)
• The leading voice of the Asia Pacific Parliamentarians Conference on Environment and Development (APPCED)
• Advisory Board, Conservation International Philippine Committee
• Chairman, Clean-Up the World Philippine Organizing Committee
• Member, Board of Mentors, UNEP-Youth Advisory Council
• Philippine Liaison, GLOBE
• International Advisor, Flora of the Philippine Project with the Bishops Museum in Hawaii
• Keynote Speaker on Global Warming Conference, Tokyo, 1997
• Panelist, International Conference on the Defense of the Oceans, USA, 1996
• Keynote Speaker of the Global Forum on Protecting the World and Its Climate, Washington, 1995
• Panelist, GLOBE Parliamentarians - Conference and Climate Institute Symposium in Kyoto
• Board Advisers, Harvard Alumni Association
• Executive Member, Rotary Club of Pasay
• Founder, Scholarship Foundation of the Filipino Youth
In the national front, he is:
• Founding Chairman, Earthsavers Movement
• Chairman, Advisory Board, Manila Baywatch Foundation
• Founding Member, Philippine Council for Sustainable Development
• Trustee, Philippine Legislators Committee on Population and Development
• Co-chairperson, "Philippine Delegation Conference of Parties (COP I), Berlin and COP III, Kyoto, 1997
• Lead Convenor, "Ministerial Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Protection of the Seas (ACOPS)", Shangrila Plaza, Makati, 1996
• Convening Chairman, "Asia-Pacific Conference on Climate Change" 17-19 February 1995, Manila, Philippines
• Delegate, "East Asia Regional Air Toxic Conference", 3-5 October 1994, Hongkong
• Head, "Philippine Delegation to the Southeast Asian Seminar on Management of Coastal Cities and Towns", (Localizing Agenda 21) 08-10 August 1994, Pattaya, Thailand
• Head, Philippine Congressional Team, "Interparliamentary Conference on Global Environment", April 29 - May 02, 1990, Washington, D.C.
• Philippine Representative, "44th Session of the United Nations General Assembly", 12-22 October 1989, (Environmental Forum), New York
• Philippine Legislative Representative, "World Environment Legislators' Forum (WELF)", 9-10 October 1989, Tokyo, Japan
• Philippine Senate Committee on Natural Resources Representative", Asian Conference on Forest Policy Revision, 11-15 July 1989, Bangkok, Thailand
• Head, Philippine Delegation, "Conference on Saving the Ozone Layer", 05-07 March 1989, London
• Keynote Speaker, "Global Warming Conference", Tokyo
• Paneslist, "International Conference on the Defense of the Oceans", USA
• Panelist, "GLOBE Parliamentarians Conference and Climate Institute Symposium", Japan
• International Public Policy Achievement Award, Climate Institute, Washington, D.C., September 1996
• Likas Yaman Special Citation, Dept. of Environment & Natural Resources, 1989
• Outstanding Alumnus Award, UP Vanguard, 1988
• Golden Oblation Award, UP Vanguard, 1988
• Outstanding Alumnus, UP, 1971
• Ten Most Outstanding Leaders of the North, 1971
• Adopted son of various tribal groups of Cordillera and Muslim Communities for distinguished and concerned leadership for cause of indigenous communities
• Camilo Osias Environmental Award, YMCA
MAJOR ACCOMPLISHMENT AS SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES (DENR)
FIGHTING POVERTY THROUGH ASSET REFORM
• Provided costal resources protection to one million municipal fisherfolks by issuing Department Administrative Order (DAO) 2001-17, delineating municipal waters for small fishermen.
• Instituted reforms accelerating the government's land distribution program for agrarian reform beneficiaries and the urban poor.
• Fixed bills in both houses of Congress seeking to extend the filing and processing of free patent applications for another 10 years.
• Returned to the DENR the task of surveying public lands which had been devolved to local government units.
• Affirmed the key role of the community in forest protection through the issuance of community based forest management agreements (CBFMA).
• Instituted efforts towards the implementation of the Community Livelihood Assistance Program to serve as a center for facilitating access of poor communities to technologies, technical assistance and funding sources.
• Provided credit and livelihood opportunities for upland communities.
• Launched the "Eco-Build for Humanity" in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity projects which build homes for the poor, with DENR providing free manpower, an environmental component in the housing projects and tree for every house built.