EXCELLENCIES AND HONORABLE GUESTS; SENATOR LOREN LEGARDA; SENATOR CYNTHIA VILLAR; REPRESENTATIVE RODEL BATOCABE; REPRESENTATIVE ARNEL TY; MY ESTEEMED COLLEAGUES BOTH FROM THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT AGENCIES AND CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS; MEDIA FRIENDS; LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, ISANG MAGANDANG UMAGANG PAGBATI SA ATING LAHAT!

THIS LANDMARK LAW IS A PRODUCT OF DECADES OLD STRUGGLE. THE ONLY REMAINING AREAS WHERE WE CAN FIND OUR COUNTRY’S ENDEMIC SPECIES SAFE AND FLOURISHING ARE OUR PROTECTED AREAS. BEFORE THE ENIPAS ACT, THAT IS MERELY THIRTEEN PERCENT (13%) OF THE COUNTRY’S TOTAL LAND SURFACE AND LESS THAN TWO PERCENT (2%) OF MARINE AREA.
THAT IS WHY I AM HERE TO THANK YOU ALL, DEAR LEGISLATORS AND PARTNERS WHO HELPED US REALIZE RA 11038. THANK YOU FOR NOT ABANDONING THE IMPERATIVE TO SAVE OUR BIODIVERSITY. THANK YOU FOR FIGHTING ON BEHALF OF THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE, THE TAMARAW, THE DUGONG, THE TARICTIC, THE WARTY PIG, THE RAFFLESIA, THEIR HOMES, THE SOURCE OF OUR FRESH WATER, FOOD, MEDICINE, FIBER, AND REGULATOR OF OUR CHANGING CLIMATE. THANK YOU ALL, THIS IS PLANET EARTH’S VICTORY… OUR HUMBLE CONTRIBUTION TO THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY TO SAVE MOTHER EARTH.

OUR COUNTRY’S UNIQUE BIODIVERSITY IS SUPPORTED BY A WIDE VARIETY OF ECOSYSTEMS, BUT NOW, MORE THAN EVER, MANY OF WHICH ARE DEEPLY THREATENED BY DEVELOPMENTS, UNSUSTAINABLE USE, AND OTHER HUMAN ACTIVITIES AND RECENTLY, NATURAL CALAMITIES RESULTING TO HABITAT LOSS AND REDUCED ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND BENEFITS, AMONG OTHERS.

TODAY, WE RISE WITH HOPES AGAINST THE SOBERING BACKDROP OF THIS BIODIVERSITY LOSS. AS POLICYMAKERS, WE ARE BOUND WITH OUR DUTY TO CREATE A LAW THAT ENSURES THAT OUR BIODIVERSITY-RICH LANDS AND WATERS ARE PROTECTED. THE PASSAGE OF THE EXPANDED NIPAS ACT IS ONE OF THE MANY FIRST STEPS THAT WE ARE TAKING TO STRENGTHEN OUR COLLECTIVE CONSERVATION EFFORT TOWARDS THE PROTECTION OF OUR VULNERABLE ECOSYSTEMS AND CRITICAL HOTSPOTS.

UNDER THE ENIPAS ACT, 94 PROTECTED AREAS HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED WITHIN THE CLASSIFICATION OF NATIONAL PARK, COVERING 6.2 MILLION HECARES. OF THE 94 PROTECTED AREAS, TWO ARE INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED AS ASEAN HERITAGE SITES, NAMELY, MT. TIMPOONG-HIBOK-HIBOK NATURAL MONUMENT AND MTS. IGLIT-BACO NATURAL PARK; WHILE THREE ARE RECOGNIZED AS RAMSAR SITES, INCLUDING AGUSAN MARSH WILDLIFE SANCTUARY, OLANGO ISLAND WILDLIFE SANCTUARY AND LA PIÑAS PARAÑAQUE CRITICAL HABITAT AND ECOTOURISM AREA.

ALL IN ALL, WE HAVE A TOTAL OF 244 PROTECTED AREAS, COVERING 7.76 MILLION HECTARES. THIS IS OUR COUNTRY’S WEALTH, AND THE GLORY OF THE ENIPAS ACT WILL NOT BE FULLY REALIZED UNTIL WE INVOLVE EVERYONE, NOT ONLY THE OFFICERS OF THE LAW, BUT BY THE MEN AND WOMEN THAT MAKE UP OUR ENTIRE NATION.

A VERY IMPORTANT PROVISION OF THE LAW IS THE RECOGNITION OF THE ROLE OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND OUR LOCAL COMMUNITIES IN THE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF THESE PROTECTED AREAS. LET’S BE GUIDED BY OUR DUTY TO PROVIDE PURPOSEFUL LEADERSHIP, AS WE THINK OF OUR NEXT STEPS AHEAD, ESPECIALLY THE DRAFTING OF THE IMPLEMENTING RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE ENIPAS ACT.

THE MANAGEMENT OF THE IPAF IS ONE CHALLENGE WE HAVE TO JUDICIOUSLY HANDLE. NOW THAT WE HAVE MORE CONTROL OF THE FUNDS, WE NEED TO COME UP WITH MANAGEMENT PLANS THAT CLEARLY IDENTIFIES STRATEGIES SUITABLE FOR EACH PROTECTED AREA. WITH THE PROVISION ON HIRING PROTECTED AREA STAFF WITH PLANTILLA POSITIONS, WE ARE CONFIDENT WILDLIFE AND BOUNDARIES WILL BE BETTER PROTECTED.

ULTIMATELY, LET’S BEGIN TO LEAD RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW, AND TAKE THE DISCIPLINE AND COMMITMENT THAT WE FORGE HERE BEYOND THE CORNERS OF THIS HALL. OUR CARING PARTNERSHIP WITH NATURE RESTS ON THE PARTNERSHIPS THAT WE BUILD AMONG US IN CONSERVING OUR PROTECTED AREAS TOWARDS A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE FOR OUR NATION AND OUR LAND.

MULI, MARAMING SALAMAT, FOR JOINING US HERE AND FOR BEING PART OF OUR ENDEAVOR TO MAKE OUR BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION WORK IN THIS PART OF THE WORLD. IT IS MY PLEASURE AND HONOR TO WELCOME YOU ALL IN THIS FORUM ON STRENGTHENING PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENIPAS!
REFERENCES:
HTTPS://WWW.CBD.INT/DOC/WORLD/PH/PH-NR-05-EN.PDF