Legarda yearns for Verde Island Passage preservation

June 24, 2024

Senator Loren Legarda asserted her commitment in protecting the Verde Island Passage (VIP), one of the important areas in terms of marine shorefish diversity.

During her speech at the “Mission Blue Visit to the Philippines: A Brief Dialogue with Dr. Sylvia Earle” event in Pasay, Legarda reiterated the preservation of precious areas such as the VIP, which is located along the provinces of Batangas, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, and Romblon.

“The visit of Dr. Sylvia Earle and the Mission Blue team amplifies our earnest commitment to safeguard the Verde Island Passage, a jewel of marine diversity, and allow it to flourish with the buy-in of the local communities and the local governments, and the continued support of all our partners here with us today,” said Legarda on Monday.

“Together, we stand at the forefront of a global movement towards marine conservation and sustainable development,” she added.

Earle is in the country to participate in the 2024 International Media Conference, and meet with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to learn more on the country’s initiatives on protected areas, particularly in the coastal and marine areas.

The 88-year-old is a renowned marine biologist, oceanographer, explorer, author, and lecturer, who pioneered research on marine ecosystems.

She founded Mission Blue, an organization which identifies key areas of marine preservation around the world, dubbed as “Hope Spots,” with the VIP being named as such in July 2023.

“It was declared a Hope Spot by Mission Blue for a reason, and I am sure that reason includes the observation by many here that the passage has demonstrated the ability to bounce back from periods of coral bleaching due to warming episodes,” remarked Legarda.

“As long as they do not come too often and too close together, there is hope of recovery,” she continued.

The Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (eNIPAS) Act, which Legarda principally authored, provides a critical framework for the protection of ecologically significant sites like the VIP.

Local government units’ specific concerns are also taken into account, allowing customization of the establishment of each protected area.

“I certainly hope the passage of the Philippine Ecosystem and Natural Capital Accounting System Act, a law I principally authored and sponsored, will be useful, especially to pin down the actual damage wrought by incidences like the Mindoro oil spill, despite conflicting figures from different sectors,” the four-term senator concluded. (30)