Senator Cynthia Villar recently sponsored the bill seeking the inclusion of 92 areas in the National Integrated and Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act.
Villar, chair of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, said Senate Bill 1444, under Committee Report No. 61, seeks to amend Republic Act 7586 or the NIPAS Act of 1992, to include more areas and to ensure greater protection for all protected areas.
“It is a sad fact that many areas in our megadiverse country remain under-protected. And in fact, the protection of some supposedly protected areas remain inadequate. Many wetlands, marine sanctuaries, tropical forests and others are under-protected and also lack resources to deal with various threats,” the legislator said in sponsoring the measure.
The lawmaker noted that the Philippines is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world or the world’s top biodiversity-rich countries, which host two-thirds of the Earth’s biodiversity and contain about 70 to 80 percent of the world’s plant and animal species.
As a megadiverse country, the Philippines ranks fifth in terms of number of plant species. It is home to five percent of the world’s plants, or about 10,000 to 13,000 species of plants described and recorded. It is fourth in bird endemism, fifth in mammal and reptile endemism and it has the second highest seagrass diversity in the world.
“The Philippines’ rich biodiversity is a source of pride and joy for all of us Filipinos. We actively protect and strongly defend the breadth and depth of our territories to ensure that the future generation of Filipinos will still have the opportunity to take pride and find joy in our country’s rich biodiversity,” the lady senator said.
As it stands today, NIPAS is comprised of 240 protected areas. With the inclusion of 92 more, six internationally-recognized areas will now be under the protection of the law.
These are ASEAN Heritage Sites: Mount Timpoong-Hibok-Hibok and Mount Iglit-Baco; Malaysia-Philippines Heritage Parks, Turtles Islands Heritage Protected Area; and Ramsar Sites Agusan Marsh, Olango Island and, Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA).
NIPAS refers to the classification and administration of all designated protected areas to maintain essential ecological processes and life-support systems, to preserve genetic diversity, to ensure sustainable use of resources found therein, and to maintain their natural conditions to the greatest extent possible.
Under the proposed “Expanded NIPAS Act of 2017”, the system “shall recognize conservation areas and the management regimes of local government units (LGUs), communities and indigenous peoples (IPs).
To ensure full implementation of the law, institutional mechanism will be established for the mobilization of resources and for adequate scientific and technical support for the conservation of biodiversity and integrity of the ecosysystem.