Legarda Asks Convergence Among DA, DENR and DOST To Address Issues on Food Security, Environment

April 19, 2015

Senator Loren Legarda has asked three agencies of government—the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)—to strengthen coordination in addressing issues on food security and the environment.

Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, made the call during the launch of the video documentary, Antique: Coral Restoration Program, which highlighted government efforts to restore coral reefs in marine ecosystems in the Philippines.

“The destruction of our marine ecosystems will lead to the extinction of thousands of species and will be detrimental to tourism, food supply, and sustenance and livelihood of our fisherfolk. We need coordinated efforts towards the rehabilitation and protection of our reefs, as well as our mangrove forests, seagrass beds, and countless other ecosystems,” she stressed.

It has been estimated that the annual net benefit for the country of its coral reefs amounted to $2.2 million for tourism, $22.9 million in coral reef fisheries and $46.3 million in shoreline protection.

The Senator explained that the three agencies tasked to conserve coral reefs and conduct rehabilitation are the DENR’s Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), particularly for the protected areas; the DA’s Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) as it has the mandate to ensure preservation of critical aquatic habitats; and the DOST’s Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) as research council for science-based programs and methods towards achieving food security.

“The convergence of these agencies is crucial in ensuring healthy ecosystems, which are our sources of food and livelihood and our protection against natural hazards,” she added.

Legarda urged the three agencies to work together and further coordinate with research bodies similarly engaged in marine studies such as the UP Marine Science Institute, in conducting an updated comprehensive mapping of the country’s coral reef resources. The maps should indicate the reefs’ state or condition as well as recommended methods of restoration and conservation methods specific to the area as a guide to policy makers in planning out the most effective programs.

Legarda also asked the three agencies to validate reports that China’s reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea is causing ecological destruction and would lead to economic losses worth US$100 Million annually.