Legarda vows to continue environmental advocacies, thanks ACB for recognizing her as ASEAN Biodiversity Hero

December 6, 2022

Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda has vowed to continue advocating for the environment as she accepted the 2022 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Biodiversity Heroes Award officially handed over by the ASEAN Secretariat on Monday, December 5, at the Ceremonial Hall of the Philippine Senate in Pasay City.

“Thank you very much, it’s truly a great honor. It’s not all about me – it’s honoring the work that we do with the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity, with various government agencies such as the DENR especially the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), the collective work of my staff and me, the local governments, our civil society organizations, the academe, the media, and many more,” she said.

In her message during the event, Legarda also emphasized the significance of bringing awareness about the importance of caring for the country’s protected areas.

She mentioned that she has worked with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on documenting these areas through a television program entitled ‘Our Fragile Earth’, which aims to foster national consciousness and cultivate a culture of engagement so that the public will be compelled to do something to protect the environment and the country’s natural resources.

As the principal author and co-sponsor of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act, Legarda said that passage of the measure in 2018 is “a big step forward”.

She explained that when she entered the Senate in 1999, there were only 13 protected areas, but through the implementation of the law, more ecologically critical areas in the country, including open seas, coastal areas, wetlands and tropical forests, are protected and preserved.

“We now have a total of over a hundred biodiversity areas declared as protected areas, but, even if an area is not legislated, it should still be protected. That’s what I always say,” she stressed.

As a senator, Legarda has authored the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act, Philippine Clean Air Act, Renewable Energy Act, Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, National Environmental Awareness and Education Act, Climate Change Act, and Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, among other environmental measures.

“Is it not so ironic that we are considered the mega-biodiverse country in the world but still number one in the world risk index? So, I guess I was born in this land to do that mission – to protect not the 94 that I legislated, not even the total 114 now, not just to legislate the pending ones, but to ensure that every declared and undeclared protected areas and species are protected for the benefit of the humankind,” she said.

“That is my passion. That is the cause for my existence in this world, and I’m happy and honored to join the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes,” Legarda added.

The conferment of the ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Award was led by ASEAN Sustainable Development Directorate Director Dr. Ky Anh Nguyen, together with ASEAN Center for Biodiversity (ACB) Executive Director Dr. Theresa Mundita S. Lim; ACB Biodiversity Information Management Unit Director Dr. Arvin Diesmos; and DENR-BMB National Parks Division Chief Meriden Maranan.

The ASEAN Biodiversity Heroes Awards ceremony was held last November 2, 2022 in Bogor, Indonesia. Legarda joined the event online. (end)