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Legarda Calls for ENIPAS Bill Passage in House

January 27, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda today renewed her call for the immediate passage of the proposed Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2015 (ENIPAS), which will strengthen conservation of close to a hundred protected areas in the country.

The Senate has approved the bill on third and final reading in July 2015 but the counterpart measure in the House of Representatives is yet to be passed.

“Great challenges face us in the task of protecting and preserving our rich biodiversity. Through this proposed measure, local communities and stakeholders will be able to do more to participate in the management and protection of our forests, oceans, flora, fauna and the indigenous peoples that reside in these sanctuaries. I hope our colleagues in the House of Representatives will be able to pass the ENIPAS Bill before session adjourns,” said Legarda, principal sponsor of the ENIPAS Bill in the Senate.

Legarda made the statement as environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) led by Oceana Philippines, Haribon Foundation, and Pusod Inc. called for the immediate passage of the said bill.

At present, there are 113 areas in the country declared as protected areas. However, only 13 have proceeded to be legislated as such under Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act. As such, 23 years have passed since the passage of the NIPAS in June 1, 1992. This means that it took an average of one year and seven months for Congress to enact legislation for each protected area.

Legarda has fervently pushed for the passage of the ENIPAS to actively help areas that remain underprotected, including open seas, coastal areas, wetlands and tropical forests.

If enacted, the ENIPAS will enhance conservation efforts for unique, rare and threatened species of plants and animals and their habitat, thus ensuring the sustainable use of our natural resources and cultural diversity.

The Senator said that pending the passage of said measure, the Protected Area Management Bureaus (PAMB) of each protected area are already actively carrying out programs for the conservation of the country’s biodiversity.

Moreover, Legarda, who also chairs the Senate Committee on Finance, introduced a provision on the protection of biodiversity under the 2016 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

Under the GAA provision, all government agencies and offices and local government units (LGUs) shall earmark a portion of their budget to ensure that protection of biological diversity is integrated and mainstreamed into their development projects and programs.

“We are doing every possible action for the protection of our biodiversity but we need the ENIPAS Law to ensure that the conservation of specific protected areas in the country is prioritized, strongly supported, and incorporated in development plans and programs of both the national government and LGUs,” said Legarda.