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Protect our oceans: says Legarda

April 29, 2013

Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate climate change committee, vowed legislative support to policies that would protect oceans and marine resources, saying food security and environmental sustainability should remain a top priority.

“I join Environmental Secretary Ramon Paje in declaring that the Philippines has a major role to play in protecting oceans and ensuring the sustainable use of underwater resources,” Legarda said, referring to the Cabinet official’s statement during the recent Sustainable Ocean Summit in Washington, D.C.

Secretary Paje had said that the Philippines, especially, is a major player in the sustainability of coastal and marine resources, being an archipelagic country with 240 million hectares of water, and being at the center of the world’s marine biodiversity.

Legarda said the legislative and executive branches’ partnership should continue as they find ways to protect and conserve the country’s marine resources and prevent illegal activities that destroy the ecosystem.

The senator has been calling for the strict enforcement of relevant laws to stop illegal activities along coastal communities and on seas like poaching of endangered species, illegal and destructive fishing, and throwing of wastes.

“The degradation of our coastal areas has long ceased to be merely an environmental issue as it pushes poverty deeper in the coastal communities through losses in livelihood, vulnerability to natural hazards, hunger and food insecurity,” Legarda said.

“I hope to immediately refile my bills on coastal resources management when the new Congress opens,” she added.

One pending bill of the senator is the proposed Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) Act under Senate Bill 1370 which seeks to create a national comprehensive framework that will promote the sustainable development of coastal and marine environment and resources. This will provide the direction, support and guidance to local government units (LGUs) in the development of their respective programs.

Another pending measure is Senate Bill 1337, which would create the Philippines Agriculture and Fisheries Extension Agency (PAFEA) that will unify all agriculture and fisheries extension systems and ensure maintenance of the high standards of extension programs. The agency shall orchestrate, provide national direction, set standards of performance, and provide institutionalized financial and technical support to LGUs.