Sponsorship Speech of Senator Loren Legarda
Batanes Responsible Tourism Act
1 February 2016 | Senate Session Hall
Mr. President, Distinguished Colleagues,
I have the honor to seek approval of the proposed measure under Committee Report No. 443, titled An Act Declaring The Province of Batanes as a Responsible, Community-Based, Ecotourism Zone and Appropriating Funds Therefor.
The story of Batanes, with its unique geographical location and its people, provides experiences and lessons in man and nature co-existing in harmonious and mutually nurturing relationship in a fragile environment.
The province offers an amazing landscape, composed of stretches of vivid green fields perched above a rugged coastline, rolling hills and a vast blue sky that seems to constantly reach out to the ocean.
Also noteworthy is its vernacular architecture, which shows lessons on the protection and adaptation of man from natural elements. Its people, the Ivatans, continue to nurture their cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible.
Both the government and the private sector recognize the province’s potential to become an ecotourism zone. In fact, since 2014, Batanes has been experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of tourists visiting the province. But we are aware of the negative impacts of unplanned tourism development and we do not want this pristine island group to be subjected to abuse and exploitation of tourists, whether intentional or otherwise.
While infrastructure, human capital, and tourism products and programs are being developed, the importance of sustaining the natural and cultural heritage of Batanes remains a key priority in the development of the province.
This proposed measure will declare the Province of Batanes as a responsible, community-based, ecotourism zone and shall be accorded priority development by the national government in promoting and protecting the integrity of its ecology and environment, the richness of its natural and cultural heritage, and the resilience of its indigenous social institutions and its people.
With the foregoing considerations, I call on my colleagues in this august chamber for their support to this measure.
Thank you, Mr. President.