The proposed Sicogon Island Wildlife Sanctuary Act from the previous Duterte administration has lapsed into law, Senator Cynthia Villar said Wednesday, Aug. 10.
Republic Act (RA) 119331 declared two parcels of land in Sicogon Island in the municipality of Carles, Iloilo as protected areas in the category of wildlife sanctuary under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), providing for its management and appropriating funds.
In her Senate Bill (SB) 2277, which she authored and sponsored, Villar noted that Sicogon Island’s interesting biodiversity calls for a need to declare a protected area its remaining 282.867 hectares forestland.
The island Is characterized by a moderately rolling terrain with the highest elevation of about 300 meters above sea level. It has 12 fresh water springs which are the source of drinking and day-to-day use of residents.
“This also made it (Sicogon Island) a candidate for the West Visayan Threatened Endemic Species Reintroduction Programme which addresses the alarming conservation status of the Negros-Panay endemic species,” Villar said.
Villar, chairwoman of the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, said the NIPAS Act declared that it is the policy of the State “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”.
The system, Villar explained, shall encompass ecologically rich, unique and biologically important areas that are habitats of threatened species of plants and animals, biographic zones and related ecosystem, whether terrestial, wetland or marine.
The 1987 Philippine Constitution mandates the State shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rythm and harmony of nature.
In line witn safeguarding a healthful ecology, the Constitution likewise provides that Congress shall determine the national parks, which shall be conserved and may not be increased nor diminished except by law.
At present, Villar related that there are protected areas in the country that have been so declared through legislation.
Based on the records and suitability assessments by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Biodiversity Management Bureau, she pointed out there are still numerous sites in the country which necessitate “protected area” status.