Six more bills seeking to declare six ecologically vital areas in the Philippines as additional protected areas (PAs) under the existing National Integrated Protected Areas Systems (NIPAS) were sponsored by Senate Committee on Environment chairperson Senator Cynthia Villar.
The proposed measures which Villar filed are the following:
• Senate Bill No. 2278, which under Committee Report No. 300 or the Mt. Pulag Protected Landscape Act. Mt. Pulag Benguet, Ifugao and Nueva Vizcaya.
• Senate Bill No. 2280 under Committee Report No. 303 or the Banao Protected Landscape Act. Banao is in Kalinga.
• Senate Bill No. 2279 under Committee Report No. 301 or the Tirad Pass Protected Landscape Act. This area is found in Ilocos Sur.
• Senate Bill 1713 under Committee Report No. 299 or the Mt. Arayat Protected Landscape Act. Mt. Arayat is located in the Pampanga.
• Senate Bill No. 2277 under Committee Report No. 304 or the Sicogon Island Wildlife Sanctuary Act. The area is located in Iloilo.
6-Senate Bill No. 2276 under Committee Report No. 302 or the Naga-Kabasalan Protected Landscape Act. The area is located in the municipalities of Naga and Kabasalan in Zamboanga Sibugay.
In her Omnibus Sponsorship Speech on the six bills, Villar cited the urgency and need to secure for the present and future Filipinos the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals.
“Human activities have a profound impact on all components of the natural environment particularly the effect of increasing population, resource exploitation and industrial advancement,” said Villar.
“Because of this, it is critically important to protect and maintain the natural, biological, and physical diversities of the environment.”
Under the NIPAS Act, she said Congress was able to strengthen the protection status of 13 ecologically important areas through individual legislations.
As newly installed Chairperson of the said committee in the 17th Congress, Villar said vigorously pursued the passage of RA No. 11038 known as the “Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2018” or the ENIPAS Act. ENIPAS Act included the legislation of ninety four (94) more PAs.
At present, she said there are 107 PAs classified as national parks in the country. Containing of 4,382,568.68 that is classified as national parks under the provisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
“But the work does not stop there. We need to declare more PAs through legislation to fulfill the state’s constitutional guarantee to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology,” stated Villar.