DENR slammed for 'jetsetter' chief, alleged corruption

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 20) — Allegations of excessive travels and corruption rocked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as its officials faced the Senate budget deliberations on Monday.

Citing insider information, Sen. Raffy Tulfo said DENR Sec. Maria Antonia "Toni" Yulo-Loyzaga has embarked on 13 to 14 foreign trips this year alone, calling her a "jetsetter."

"For the information of the good sponsor na first time in the history na meron tayong DENR secretary na almost every other month bumibiyahe sa abroad. Iyan po ang reklamo ng ilang mga taga DENR mismo sa iba't ibang region na yung kanilang DENR secretary ay hindi nila nakikita or bihira nila makita in person," Tulfo said.

"Walang ginawa kundi forum lang sa mga hotels at mga video conference," he added.

[Translation: For the information of the good sponsor, it's the first time in history that we have a DENR secretary who travels abroad almost every month. Some DENR personnel from various regions complain they no longer see her in person. All she does is attend forums in hotels and video conferences.]

Sen. Cynthia Villar, who defended the DENR’s proposed 2024 budget in plenary, confirmed that the agency has spent ₱1.1 billion for official trips of the Office of the Secretary and four bureaus this year. These include travels for five engagements with the United Nations.

"Sinasabi po na lahat ng trip na yan ay ministerial level. She has to go and she has the approval of the president kasi may mga conference na dapat ang secretary of DENR should go at meron namang conference na pwedeng mag-send lang siya ng representative," Villar said.

[Translation: All are ministerial level engagements that she has to go to. She has the approval of the president because there are conferences that require the presence of the DENR secretary. There are also conferences where she can send a representative.]

Villar added that the secretary's other travels are personal ones.

Tulfo, however, questioned the secretary's use of a diplomatic passport instead of a personal one, as alleged by his confidential sources.

He also quizzed environment officials about supposed corruption in the conduct of cadastral or land surveys, which determine boundaries of barangays, cities, and municipalities.

Citing contractors’ complaints, Tulfo said rogue DENR personnel would demand a commission of up to 30% in exchange for approving the surveys.

“Nagiging SOP (standard operating procedure) daw ay 25-30% commission bago pirmahan yung cadastral survey na ginawa contractor… Kasi kung di magbibigay ng commission hindi mapipirmahan at hindi mababayaran si contractor,” Tulfo said.

[Translation: The SOP is a 25-30% commission before the cadastral survey conducted by a contractor is signed. Without this, the survey would not be signed and the contractor would not get paid.]

Villar said complaints should be filed to enable the leadership to prosecute and weed out scalawags from the agency.

Asked for a reaction, DENR said it has no statement as of now.