Sen. Villar pushes for more protected areas under E-NIPAS

Published August 17, 2021, 12:18 PM

by Manila Bulletin

“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 its protection because any damage or loss will cost too much for a country such as ours.”

Senator Cynthia Villar, author the E-NIPAS Act.

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

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

Protecting the environment and preserving ecosystems 

Villar, chairperson of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Commitee, 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 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 are established by law, conventions or international agreements, which the Philippine government is a signatory.

Because of this, Villar cited 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.

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

RegionProtected AreasProvince
2Bangan Hill National ParkN. Vizcaya
 Batanes Landscape and SeascapeBatanes
 Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park  Isabela
4AMt. Banahaw – San Cristobal Protected LandscapeLaguna & Quezon
4BTubbataha Reefs Natural ParkPalawan
6Mt. Kanlaon Natural ParkNegros Occidental
 Sagay Marine ReserveNegros Occidental & Oriental
7Central Cebu Protected LandscapeCebu City
10Mt. Malindang Natural ParkMisamis Occidental
 Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural ParkBukidnon
 Mimbilisan Protected Landscape (protected landscape)Misamis Oriental
11Mt. Apo Natural ParkDavao del Sur
 Mt. Hamimguitan Range Wildlife SanctuaryDavao Oriental

Warnings vs. environmental destruction

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

Expanding NIPAS Act

Due to this, Villar led legislative efforts to amend Republic Act 7586 or the National NIPAS Act of 1992.  She was principal sponsor of Republic Act 11038 or the law expanding the National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS) that President 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 Villar. To date, she said there are 107 protected areas in the country that have been so declared through legislation. 

Vilar said at least six of these are internationally recognized: RAMSAR Sites: Las Piñas-Parañaque 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

RegionName of Protected AreaProvince
1Kalbario-Patapat Natural ParkIlocos Norte
Libunao Protected LandscapeIlocos Norte
Bessang Pass Natural Monument/LandmarkIlocos Sur
Bigbiga Protected LandscapeIlocos Sur
Lidlidda Banayoyo Protected Landscape Ilocos Sur
Salcedo Protected Landscape (formerly Sta. Lucia Protected Landscape)Ilocos Sur
Agoo Damortis Protected Landscape and SeascapeLa Union
Manleluag Spring Protected LandscapePangasinan
2Palaui Island Protected Landscape and SeascapeCagayan
Peñablanca Protected Landscape and SeascapeCagayan
Tumauini Watershed Natural ParkIsabela
Salinas Natural MonumentNueva Vizcaya
Casecnan Protected LandscapeQuirino, Nueva Vizacaya, and Aurora
3Amro River Protected LandscapeAurora
Dinadiawan River Protected LandscapeAurora
Simbahan Talagas Protected LandscapeAurora
Talaytay Protected LandscapeAurora
Bataan Natural ParkBataan
Roosevelt Protected LandscapeBataan
Masinloc and Oyon Bay Protected Landscape and SeascapeZambales
NCRLas Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), also known as Las Piñas-Parañaque Wetland ParkLas Piñas City and Parañaque City
Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife CenterQuezon City
4AMts. Palay-Palay-Mataas-na-Gulod Protected LandscapeBatangas and Cavite
Taal Volcano Protected LandscapeBatangas and Cavite
Buenavista Protected LandscapeQuezon
Maulawin Spring Protected LandscapeQuezon
Quezon Protected LandscapeQuezon
Hinulugang Taktak Protected LandscapeRizal
Pamitinan Protected LandscapeRizal
Upper Marikina River Basin Protected LandscapeRizal
4BMarinduque Wildlife SanctuaryMarinduque
Apo Reef Natural ParkOccidental Mindoro
Mt. Calavite Wildlife SanctuaryOccidental Mindoro
Mts. Iglit-Baco Natural ParkOccidental and Oriental Mindoro
Mt. Guiting-Guiting Natural ParkRomblon
5Mt. Mayon National ParkAlbay
Ticao Burias Pass Protected SeascapeAlbay, Masbate, and Sorsogon
Abasig-Matogdon-Mananap Natural Biotic AreaCamarines Norte
Bicol Natural ParkCamarines Sur
Buhi Wildlife SanctuaryCamarines Sur
Lagonoy Natural Biotic AreaCamarines Sur
Malabungot Protected LandscapeCamarines Sur
Mt. Isarog Natural ParkCamarines Sur
Catanduanes Natural ParkCatanduanes
Bongsanglay Natural ParkMasbate
Bulusan Volcano Natural ParkSorsogon
6Northwest Panay Peninsula Natural ParkAklan and Antique
Sibalom Natural ParkAntique
Northern Negros Natural ParkNegros Occidental
7Albuquerque-Loay-Loboc Protected Landscape and SeascapeBohol
Chocolate Hills Natural MonumentBohol
Panglao Island Protected SeascapeBohol
Rajah Sikatuna Protected LandscapeBohol
Talibon Group of Island Protected Landscape and SeascapeBohol
Camotes Island Protected Landscape and SeascapeCebu
Olango Island Wildlife SanctuaryCebu
Tañon Strait Protected SeascapeCebu, Negros Occidental and Oriental
Apo Island Protected Landscape and SeascapeNegros Oriental
Balisasayao Twin Lakes Natural ParkNegros Oriental
8Cuatro Islas Protected Landscape and SeascapeLeyte
Lake Danao Natural ParkLeyte
Mahagnao Volcano Natural ParkLeyte
Guiuan Marine Resource Protected Landscape and SeascapeEastern Samar
Biri Larosa Protected Landscape and SeascapeNorthern Samar
Calbayog Pan-as Hayiban Protected Landscape Samar
Samar Island Natural ParkSamar, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar
9Basilan Natural Biotic AreaBasilan
Aliguay Island Protected Landscape and SeascapeIablea City
Turtle Islands Wildlife SanctuaryTawi-Tawi
Great and Little Sta. Cruz Island Protected Landscape and SeascapeZamboanga City
Pasonanca Natural ParkZamboanga City
Jose Rizal Memorial Protected LandscapeZamboanga del Norte
Murcielagos Protected Landscape and SeascapeZamboanga del Norte
Selinog Island Protected Landscape and SeascapeZamboanga del Norte
Siocon Resource ReserveZamboanga del Norte
Dumanquillas Bay Protected Landscape and SeascapeZamboanga del Sur
Mt. Timolan Protected LandscapeZamboanga del Sur
Buug Natural Biotic AreaZamboanga Sibugay
10Mt. Kalatungan Range Natural ParkBukidnon
Mt. Timpoong Hibok-Hibok Natural MonumentCamiguin
Mt. Inayawan Range Natural ParkLanao del Norte
Baliangao Protected Landscape and SeascapeMisamis Occidental
Initao-Libertad Protected Landscape and SeascapeMisamis Oriental
Mt. Balatukan Range Natural ParkMisamis Oriental
11Mabini Protected Landscape and SeascapeCompostela Valley
Mainit Hot Spring Protected LandscapeCompostela Valley
Aliwagwag Protected Landscape Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley
Mati Protected LandscapeDavao Oriental
Pujada Bay Protected Landscape and SeascapeDavao Oriental
12Sarangani Bay Protected SeascapeGeneral Santos City and Sarangani
Mt. Matutum Protected LandscapeSouth Cotabato and Sarangani
13Agusan Marsh Wildlife SanctuaryAgusan del Sur
Siargao Island Protected Landscape and SeascapeSurigao del Norte
Tinuy-An Falls Protected LandscapeSurigao del Sur

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

RegionProtected AreasProvince
CAR/R2Mount PulagBenguet, Ifugao, and N. Vizcaya
 Banao Protected LandscapeKalinga
1Tirad Pass Protected Landscape  Ilocos Sur
3Mount Arayat Protected LandscapePampanga
6Sicogon Island Wildlife SanctuaryIloilo
9Naga-Kabansalan Protected LandscapeZamboanga Sibugay

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