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Legarda Files Anew Bill Strengthening Conservation of Protected Areas

July 12, 2016

Senator Loren Legarda has filed anew the proposed Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act, which will strengthen conservation of close to a hundred protected areas in the country.

Senate Bill No. 32 completes the process of declaration of 97 protected areas in the country through amendments to the existing National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Law or Republic Act No. 7586.

“Great challenges face us in the task of protecting and preserving our rich biodiversity. The proposed ENIPAS Law will secure the remaining protected areas in the country through strengthening access to funding and prosecution of prohibited acts,” said Legarda.

“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,” she added.

Legarda explained that the NIPAS Act established a system of protected areas within the classification of national park as provided for in the Constitution.

The system consists of all areas in the Philippines proclaimed, designated or set aside by law, presidential decree, presidential proclamation or executive order as any of the following: national park, game refuge, bird and wildlife sanctuary, wilderness area, strict nature reserve, watershed, mangrove reserve, fish sanctuary, natural and historical landmark, protected and managed landscape/seascape as well as identified virgin forests before the effectivity of the NIPAS Act.

Since 1992, 113 have been declared through Presidential proclamations as protected areas under the NIPAS. However, only 13 protected areas have finally proceeded to be legislated as such in the more than 20 years since the NIPAS Act was enacted.

Legarda said it is imperative that the proclaimed protected areas are declared as such through Congressional fiat as required by the NIPAS Act and pursuant to the directive of the Constitution.

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.

In the last Congress, the Senate passed the ENIPAS bill on Third Reading, but the measure was pending in the House of Representatives.

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.