Sen. Villar sets out a mission to save planet Earth, pushes for more protected areas under E-NIPAS

“We are very happy to come up with this legislation ensuring protection for more areas in our megadiverse country. We have to take action about this protection because any damage or loss will cost too much for a country such as ours.”

A staunch environmentalist, Senator Cynthia A. Villar has been leading the campaign in the conservation of the environment to even hold at bay climate change that could endanger all forms of life on earth.

The senator has embarked on legislation to protect and conserve biodiversity.

Protecting the environment and preserving ecosystems

Sen. Villar, chairperson of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, noted that under the 1987 Philippine Constitution, it is a declared state policy that the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature, in line with safeguarding a healthful ecology.

She said the Constitution likewise mandates that Congress shall determine the national parks, which shall be conserved and may not be increased nor diminished except by law.

NIPAS Act builds system of protected areas

The National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) was established by virtue of Republic Act (RA) No. 7586 on June 1, 1992, as amended by RA No. 11038, known as the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018.

The NIPAS Act of 2018 provides the state policy “to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishment of comprehensive system of integrated Protected Areas (PAs).”

Under Sec.3 of the NIPAS Act, there are at least seven categories of PAs. They are the Strict Nature Reserve, Natural Park, Natural Monument, Wildlife Sanctuary, Protected Landscapes and Seascapes, Resource Reserve and Natural Biotic Areas. Other categories established by law, conventions or international agreements which the Philippine government is a signatory.

Because of this, Sen. Villar cited the need for stricter implementation of environmental laws especially in protected areas that serve as natural habitats for wildlife, including endangered animals that contribute significantly to biodiversity.

Sen. Villar asserted they should not be damaged or destroyed, but protected instead, not only for the animals’ sake but for our sake as well.

13 Protected Areas under Original NIPAS Act

Region
Protected Areas
Province
2
1. Bangan Hill National Park
N.Vizcaya

2. Batanes Landscape and Seascape
Batanes

3. Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park
Isabela
4A
4. Mt. Banahaw – San Cristobal Protected Landscape
Laguna & Quezon
4B
5. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park
Palawan
6
6. Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park
Negros Occidental

7. Sagay Marine Reserve
Negros Occidental & Oriental
7
8. Central Cebu Protected Landscape
Cebu City
10
9. Mt. Malindang Natural Park
Misamis Occidental

10. Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park
Bukidnon

11. Mimbilisan Protected Landscape (protected landscape), Misamis Oriental
Misamis Oriental
11
12. Mt. Apo Natural Park
Davao del sur

13. Mt. Hamimguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary
Davao Oriental

Warnings vs environmental destruction

Despite the Philippines being biodiversity-rich, the country is also among the world’s biodiversity hot spots or those areas experiencing high rates of habitat loss.

Expanding NIPAS Act

Due to this, Sen. Villar led legislative efforts to amend RA 7586 or the National NIPAS Act of 1992. She was principal sponsor of RA 11038 or the law expanding the National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) that President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed into law last June 22, 2018.

The law provides the legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas in the country. NIPAS refers to the classification and administration of all designated protected areas to preserve genetic diversity and to maintain their natural conditions to the greatest extent possible. The Expanded NIPAS Act was passed in 2017 to include more areas.

The Expanded NIPAS Law facilitated the legislation of 94 more protected areas through the effort of Sen. Villar:

To date, Sen. Villar said there are 107 protected areas in the country that have been so declared through legislation.

Sen. Villar said at least six of these are internationally recognized: RAMSAR Sites: Las Pinas Paranaque Wetland Park, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, and Tubbataha Reefs. Heritage Sites: Mount Timpoong-Hibok-Hibok and Mount Iglit-Baco. Malaysia-Philippines Heritage Parks: Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area.

However, based on the records and suitability, assessments by the Biodiversity Management Bureau of the DENR, she emphasized there are still numerous sites in the country that have to be given ‘protected area’ status.

94 Protected Areas under Republic Act 11038 or E-NIPAS

Region

Name of Protected Area
Province
1
1
Kalbario-Patapat Natural Park
Ilocos Norte
2
Libunao Protected Landscape
Ilocos Norte
3
Bessang Pass Natural Monument/Landmark
Ilocos Sur
4
Bigbiga Protected Landscape
Ilocos Sur
5
Lidlidda Banayoyo Protected Landscape
Ilocos Sur
6
Salcedo Protected Landscape (formerly Sta. Lucia Protected Landscape)
Ilocos Sur
7
Agoo Damortis Protected Landscape and Seascape
La Union
8
Manleluag Spring Protected Landscape
Pangasinan
2
9
Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape
Cagayan
10
Penablanca Protected Landscape and Seascape
Cagayan
11
Tumauini Watershed Natural Park
Isabela
12
Salinas Natural Monument
Nueva Vizcaya
13
Casecnan Protected Landscape
Quirino, Nueva Vizacaya, and Aurora
3
14
Amro River Protected Landscape
Aurora
15
Dinadiawan River Protected Landscape
Aurora
16
Simbahan Talagas Protected Landscape
Aurora
17
Talaytay Protected Landscape
Aurora
18
Bataan Natural Park
Bataan
19
Roosevelt Protected Landscape
Bataan
20
Masinloc and Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape
Zambales
NCR
21
Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), also known as Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park
Las Pinas City and Paranaque City
22
Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center
Quezon City
4A
23
Mts. Palay-Palay-Mataas-na-Gulod Protected Landscape
Batangas and Cavite
24
Taal Volcano Protected Landscape
Batangas and Cavite
25
Buenavista Protected Landscape
Quezon
26
Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape
Quezon
27
Quezon Protected Landscape
Quezon
28
Hinulugang Taktak Protected Landscape
Rizal
29
Pamitinan Protected Landscape
Rizal
30
Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape
Rizal
4B
31
Marinduque Wildlife Sanctuary
Marinduque
32
Apo Reef Natural Park
Occidental Mindoro
33
Mt. Calavite Wildlife Sanctuary
Occidental Mindoro
34
Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural Park
Occidental and Oriental Mindoro
35
Mt. Guiting-Guiting Natural Park
Romblon
5
36
Mt. Mayon National Park
Albay
37
Ticao Burias Pass Protected Seascape
Albay, Masbate and Sorsogon
38
Abasig-Matogdon-Mananap Natural Biotic Area
Camarines Norte
39
Bicol Natural Park
Camarines Sur
40
Buhi Wildlife Sanctuary
Camarines Sur
41
Lagonoy Natural Biotic Area
Camarines Sur
42
Malabungot Protected Landscape
Camarines Sur
43
Mt. Isarog Natural Park
Camarines Sur
44
Catanduanes Natural Park
Catanduanes
45
Bongsanglay Natural Park
Masbate
46
Bulusan Volcano Natural Park
Sorsogon
6
47
North west Panay Peninsula Natural Park
Aklan and Antique
48
Sibalom Natural Park
Antique
49
Northern Negros Natural Park
Negros Occidental
7
50
Albuquerque-Loay-Loboc Protected Landscape and Seascape
Bohol
51
Chocolate Hills Natural Monument
Bohol
52
Panglao Island Protected Seascape
Bohol
53
Rajah Sikatuna Protected Landscape
Bohol
54
Talibon Group of Island Protected Landscape and Seascape
Bohol
55
Camotes Island Protected Landscape and Seascape
Cebu
56
Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Cebu
57
Tanon Strait Protected Seascape
Cebu, Negros Occidental and Oriental
58
Apo Island Protected Landscape and Seascape
Negros Oriental
59
Balisasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park
Negros Oriental
8
60
Cuatro Islas Protected Landscape and Seascape
Leyte
61
Lake Danao Natural Park
Leyte
62
Mahagnao Volcano Natural Park
Leyte
63
Guiuan Marine Resource Protected Landscape and Seascape
Eastern Samar
64
Biri Larosa Protected Landscape and Seascape
Northern Samar
65
Calbayog Pan-as Hayiban Protected Landscape
Samar
66
Samar Island Natural Park
Samar, Eastern Samar and Northern Samar
9
67
Basilan Natural Biotic Area
Basilan
68
Aliguay Island Protected Landscape and Seascape
Iablea City
69
Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary
Tawi-Tawi
70
Great and Little Sta. Cruz Island Protected Landscape and Seascape
Zamboanga City
71
Pasonanca Natural Park
Zamboanga City
72
Jose Rizal Memorial Protected Landscape
Zamboanga del Norte
73
Murcielagos Protected Landscape and Seascape
Zamboanga del Norte
74
Selinog Island Protected Landscape and Seascape
Zamboanga del Norte
75
Siocon Resource Reserve
Zamboanga del Norte
76
Dumanquillas Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape
Zamboanga del Sur
77
Mt. Timolan Protected Landscape
Zamboanga del Sur
78
Buug Natural Biotic Area
Zamboanga Sibugay
10
79
Mt. Kalatungan Range Natural Park
Bukidnon
80
Mt. Timpoong Hibok-Hibok Natural Monument
Camiguin
81
Mt. Inayawan Range Natural Park
Lanao del Norte
82
Baliangao Protected Landscape and Seascape
Misamis Occidental
83
Initao-Libertad Protected Landscape and Seascape
Misamis Oriental
84
Mt. Balatukan Range Natural Park
Misamis Oriental
11
85
Mabini Protected Landscape and Seascape
Compostela Valley
86
Mainit Hot Spring Protected Landscape
Compostela Valley
87
Aliwagwag Protected Landscape
Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley
88
Mati Protected Landscape
Davao Oriental
89
Pujada Bay Protected Landscape and Seascape
Davao Oriental
12
90
Saragani Bay Protected Seascape
General Santos City and Sarangani
91
Mt. Matutum Protected Landscape
South Cotabato and Sarangani
13
92
Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary
Agusan del Sur
93
Siargao Island Protected Landscape and Seascape
Surigao del Norte
94
Tinuy-An Falls Protected Landscape
Surigao del Sur

Sen. Villar said additional six protected areas to be legislated by the Senate Committee on Environment which she chaired during the 18th Congress. These are:

Region
Protected Areas
Province
CAR/R2
1. Mount Pulag
Benguet, Ifugao and N. Vizcaya

2. Banao Protected Landscape
Kalinga
1
3. Tirad Pass Protected Landscape
Ilocos Sur
3
4. Mount Arayat Protected Landscape
Pampanga
6
5. Sicogon Island Wildlife Sanctuary
Iloilo
9
6. Naga-Kabansalan Protected Landscape
Zamboanga Sibugay

Mount Pulag, Banao, Tirad Pass, Mount Arayat, and Naga-Kabasalan are all protected landscapes while Sicogon is a wildlife sanctuary.

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