The Environmental Management Bureau shall be the primary government agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to formulate, integrate, coordinate, supervise and implement all policies,programs, projects and activities relative to the prevention and control of pollution as well as the management and enhancement of environment.
Region 3 or Central Luzon covers the provinces of Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Bataan, Zambales and Aurora. It has a total land area of 2,215,752 hectares. The region is endowed with a balanced mix of environmental assets to value, maintain, develop and manage accordingly. It is composed of 494,533 hectares of forestland, 251,518 hectares of protected areas composed of watersheds and forest reserves, national parks, games refuge, bird sanctuary and wildlife area covering 13.8% of the region’s land area. Forty one percent of its land area is composed of agricultural plains with rice as its main crop. Long coastlines rich with fishing grounds border it. Mineral resources may be extracted in Bulacan and Zambales
Central Luzon is traditionally known as the Rice Bowl of the Philippines due to its vast rice lands that produces most of the nation’s staple food products as well as a wide variety of other crops. With the opening of various investment opportunities in Economic Zones in Clarkfield and Subic Bay Area, Region III is now termed as the W-Growth Corridor due to the industrialization of many areas in the region. The W-Growth Corridor covers areas with rapid growth potentials for the industrial, tourism and agricultural sectors of Central Luzon, making Region III one of the most critical regions in terms of environmental concerns primarily due to the rapid sprawl of industries/establishments and human settlements while the necessary land use and environmental planning are not yet effectively being carved. [As such, the EMB, together with Local Government Units (LGUs) and other entities are trying to lessen the impact of infrastructure development and industrialization on the environment.
The province of Bulacan, situated in the industrial belt of the W-Growth Corridor, has hundreds of small to medium scale Industries, a steady and fast growing population due to the fast development of areas into residential and industrial subdivisions, commercial establishments and the like. Bulacan takes pride in being the Small and Medium Enterprise Center of the region. It may also be considered the center of piggeries, poultry farms, and other agri-based products, smelting, tannery and pyrotechnics industries. Many of which is small scale and without pollution control facilities and environmental mitigating measures. As a result, there is a rapid environmental degradation in terms of air and water quality in the province. Also, its water bodies such as the Meycauayan and Marilao Rivers are now considered heavily polluted.
The eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 altered the geographical features of the region particularly in Pampanga as many municipalities were covered by lahar. Lahar deposits in the province’s natural drainage caused the clogging of
waterways and the siltation of various water bodies resulting to flooding and prolonged submersion of several low-lying municipalities in floodwaters.
The tons of lahar deposited in Pampanga and Tarlac provided a new source of livelihood to the affected municipalities. Lahar quarrying became prevalent in both provinces, as lahar, when mixed with cement was found to produce better quality hollow blocks and concrete materials which can be used in various construction and infrastructure projects.
Also, situated in the region are the special economic and industrial zones like the Luisita Industrial Park (LIP) in Tarlac City, Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) in Olongapo City, Authority for the Freeport Area of Bataan (AFAB) in Mariveles, Bataan and Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) in Angeles City.
Tarlac, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija had developed a large percentage of land for agricultural research, piggery and poultry projects. The said projects contribute much to the pollution load in the water bodies. Consequently, the number of complaints regarding livestock and agri-based operations has been a major concern of EMB. In several cases, particularly for piggery and poultry farms located in areas classified for residential purposes, the existence of a piggery or poultry project in the area is no longer possible. There are also small-scale piggery farms that cannot afford to construct wastewater treatment facilities. As such, these farms need to be relocated into suitable areas equipped with pollution control facilities.
In Zambales and Bataan, dominant are operations of beach resorts and tourism projects. Clustering of multipartite monitoring team (MMT) for Subic Bay resorts had been initiated. In fact, the MMT for Subic Bay Resorts Association (SUBRA) was established in September of 2006.
Aurora, on the other hand, is located in the eastern portion of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range making it generally mountainous. The Sierra Madre Mountains traverse the entire length of the province. Most of the municipalities are coastal towns featuring largely underdeveloped surfing beaches, with the exception of Maria Aurora. Almost 60% of its land area is classified as forested or timberland. The province also has a total of 66,944 hectares of protected area composed of watershed forest reserves making it the center of corporate forest development and management for Luzon. The forest development (logging) industry has been on – going since the 1950’s. Logging, however, had diversified from the traditional log and lumber production. Logging companies have diversified into other livelihood endeavors like prawn culture, rattan gathering and sericulture. Production from plantation and natural forest provided the wood industry requirements of Metro Manila, Bulacan and the
nearby provinces. The pristine waters and lush vegetation of Aurora and its potential for eco-tourism and economic development require that the DENR-EMB should be more vigilant in carrying its mandate.