Legarda on World Environment Day: “Malasakit” will Help Save our Marine Life and Preserve our Ecosystems

June 5, 2018

In observance of the World Environment Day today, Senator Loren Legarda has renewed her call to show a sense of responsibility and accountability towards protecting the environment and preservation of the country’s ecosystems.


Legarda, a known advocate of environmental conservation and sustainable development, addressed the 4th Asia-Pacific Coral Reef Symposium at the Marco Polo Hotel Plaza in Cebu City yesterday just in time for the World Environment Day.


“Our country, being an archipelago located within the coral triangle, is blessed with a very rich biodiversity characterized by extensive coral reefs, sea grass beds and dense mangroves. Unfortunately, our overdependence on our seas, on our natural environment, has greatly contributed to the worsening state of the country’s marine ecosystems, which has not only led to the extinction of marine species, but has also been detrimental to the state of the environment, of the sources of our food supply, livelihood and even related industries such as tourism and trade,” Legarda lamented.


“This makes our responsibility to protect our oceans and our reefs even greater to mitigate the effects of marine ecosystem degeneration and coral reef bleaching and destruction. It just takes a simple sense of“malasakit” for each one of us to do our share in protecting, conserving and rehabilitating our marine biological diversity,” Legarda added.


The Senator stressed that “until Filipinos have not realized that the key to preventing the exploitation of resources, destruction of marine life and ensure a balanced marine ecosystem lies in each and every individual’s effort to be part of the solution, then the greatest challenge we will have to fight to combat the warming climate, ecosystems degeneration and its effects is our own indifference.”


“As the problems of pollution, marine litter, environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources escalate, all sectors of society, the LGUs, the agencies of the government tasked to be environmental warriors, and even the smallest unit of society, the family, all of us must act with urgency. Citizens should make conscious efforts to change daily routine and practices to produce a positive impact and help resuscitate our ailing environment,” Legarda said.


Moreover, Legarda also lamented on a report from the Ocean Conservancy naming the Philippines as one of the top sources of plastic trash dumped into the sea.


“According to the Ocean Conservancy, the Philippines is one of the top sources of plastic trash dumped into the sea, contributing 2.7 million metric tons of plastic waste and half a million metric tons of plastic-waste leakage per year. We’ve been too abusive of our ocean, and our marine ecosystem has been taking all the burden resulting from the misuse of resources,” Legarda said


Aside from the aggravating problem in marine litter, Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, also noted the rising sea surface temperature and ocean acidification are the main causes of environmental challenges that led to the destruction of coral reefs, diminishing fish population, low fish catch and lower protein intake which is vital to people’s health.


“Extreme heat results in coral bleaching, which then leads to the destruction of coral reefs, that would ultimately mean diminishing fish population, lower fish catch and lower protein intake for the people. It cannot be denied therefore that climate change is one of the factors of the worsening state of the country’s ecosystem,” Legarda said.


The country’s natural resources, especially those within our seas, are crucial for the continuity of life, especially since the Philippines is an archipelago and has ranked 9th among the major fish-producing countries in the world in 2015. Thus, the Senator urged local government units (LGUs) to strictly enforce existing laws such as the Ecological Solid Waste Management (ESWM) Law and the Clean Water Act to strengthen the protection and preservation of marine ecosystems and make sure that the environment is more resilient and sustainable.


“Our lives are linked closely to the ocean and the rich marine resources that it yields. I am calling on local government units to exercise its crucial role in the strict implementation and enforcement of existing relevant laws concerning conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. We must act now and work together to find the much-needed balance in using the resources of our oceans and protecting its biodiversity to ensure that it benefits us in a sustainable manner,” Legarda said.


“Let us work hand in hand to bring back the health of our ocean, the coral reefs, and the entire marine ecosystem to its once pristine and abundant condition so that marine life will not lose its home, our marine biodiversity will remain sustainable, and both the present and future generations will continue to benefit from our natural resources,” Legarda concluded.