Protected areas

February 23, 2020

THE destruction of the remaining forest lands, including watersheds, is something that cannot be ignored by the country’s lawmakers – senators and congressmen - and the rest of the people.

Illegal loggers, “kaingeros” and other misplaced individuals have no place in a country, like the Philippines, where landslides and flooding claim the lives of many people throughout the year.

In other words, the House of Representatives and the 24-member Senate ought to come up with vital pieces of legislation aimed at protecting and conserving the country’s natural resources.

Thus, we doff our hat to members of the highly-influential House committee on natural resources for approving six proposed measures declaring 13 sites in eight provinces as “protected areas.”

As “protected areas,” the said 13 places are closed to commercial and large-scale exploitation, according to Rep. Elpidio “Pidi” Barzaga Jr. of Cavite, who is chairman of the committee.

“We have to protect…and preserve them for the benefit, enjoyment and appreciation of future generations of Filipinos. For instance, watersheds, hills and mountains are among our primary sources of water,” said Barzaga.

Barzaga said the proposed “protected areas,” including Mt Arayat in Pampanga and nine watersheds in Occidental Mindoro and Oriental Mindoro, cover a combined area of 332,456 hectares.

The other areas are in the provinces of Iloilo, Masbate, Negros Oriental, Quirino and Ilocos Sur.

House Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr. welcomed the inclusion of Mt. Arayat, saying the mountain “is currently facing environmental challenges like illegal logging.”

“If no action is taken, it is only a matter of time before Arayat degrades into a… landmass devoid of life. It could also become a natural hazard to people living within its periphery,” he said.

Let’s preserve all watersheds, hills, mountains, parks, forest lands and natural landscapes declared “protected areas” under the Expanded National Integrated Areas System Act of 2018.

It’s a must!