To celebrate May as the Month of the Ocean, Sen. Cynthia Villar renewed her commitment to protect oceans and wetlands and preserve their roles in nurturing life and supporting livelihoods.
During the On-the-Spot Poster-Making Contest initiated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) at the Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland Park (LPPWP), Villar underscored the importance of “the conservation, protection, and sustainable management of our country’s coastal and marine resources.”
“It becomes all the more important given that the Philippines is an archipelago endowed with vast coastal and ocean resources, including critical habitats, mangroves, coral reefs, seagrass beds, seascapes, and endangered and vulnerable marine flora and fauna, all of which provide both economic and ecological benefits for the present and future generations,” Villar said.
Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Climate Change, said while it is important to meet the needs of the growing population and demand for food and resources, “we should do so without neglecting the health of our oceans, which are a rich source of diverse marine life that sustain millions of people.”
“It is a sad reality that our oceans and wetlands are vulnerable. Habitat destruction and climate change have led to a decline in marine bounties and biodiversity. Wetlands, such as the LPPWP, a legislated protected area, are also under threat,” Villar said, adding that the proposed reclamation projects near or within the vicinity of LPPWP would result in the destruction of the park’s ecological functions, which are beneficial to Filipinos.
She said the reclamation project “will lead to the disruption of migratory bird routes, degradation of buffers against climate change, and an irreversible loss of marine resources and biodiversity.”
Villar cited a study conducted by the National Fisheries Development Institute, which reveals that the wetland is part of the hotspot for spawning in the Eastern part of Manila Bay and the volume of fish eggs laid is the highest in that area.
Groups of fisherfolk cited that various types of fish and other seafood can be harvested in that area, which form part of the seafood supply in Southern NCR consisting of cities of Pasay, Parañaque, Las Piñas,Taguig,Pateros and Muntinlupa, CAMANAVA ( Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, and Valenzuela) and Bulacan.
“I am very determined to stop these proposed reclamation projects that threaten the survival of this protected area. We should remember that it is within wetlands like the LPPWP that life in our oceans begins. They are the nursery grounds for many marine species that end up on our plates,” Villar said.
Villar also reminded the contest participants to remember their important role in safeguarding the oceans and wetlands. “Together, we can craft a future where our wetlands are respected, and our oceans continue to thrive and sustainably feed the global population,” she added.