Senate Approves the ENIPAS Bill

July 29, 2015

The Senate has approved on third and final reading the proposed Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 2015(ENIPAS) which will strengthen conservation of 97 protected areas in the country.

Senator Loren Legarda, principal sponsor of the ENIPAS, celebrated the development. “We are a step closer to the finish line. Through this 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 said.

At present, there are 113 areas in the country declared as protected areas. However, only 13 have proceeded to be legislated as such under Republic Act No. 7586, otherwise known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS Act). As such, 23 years have passed since the passage of the NIPAS in June 1, 1992. This means that it took an average of one year and seven months for Congress to enact legislation for each protected area.

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.

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.

The Senator said that pending the passage of said measure, the Protected Area Management Bureaus (PAMB) of each protected area are already actively carrying out programs for the conservation of the country’s biodiversity.

One example is in Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park (MIBNP). The tamaraw, endemic in Mindoro, faced extinction, with less than 100 of the species in 1969. Today, through conservation efforts led by the MIBNP Management Board, 405 tamaraws roam the area.

“If this can be done now, I can only look forward to what can further be done once the ENIPAS becomes a law,” said Legarda.

“The passage of the ENIPAS in the Senate is just the beginning. We await its passage in the House of Representatives and it will still undergo bicameral approval before it is submitted to the President for enactment. When we succeed in making this a law, the next hurdle is making sure stakeholders execute it properly. Great challenges face us in the task of protecting and preserving our rich biodiversity,” Legarda said.