Republic Act 11038 or the law expanding the National Integrated Protected Areas System (E-NIPAS), placing more areas under government protection including popular tourism destinations as well as internationally-recognized critical zones, was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on June 22, 2018.
Among the 94 new areas placed under government’s protection are three Ramsar Sites namely, the Las Pinas-Paranaque Wetland Park, Agusan Marsh (Agusan del Sur) and Olango Island (Cebu). Also protected now as national parks are popular tourist spots in the country including Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte, Chocolate Hills and Panglao Island in Bohol, Apo Island in Negros Oriental, Mt. Mayon in Albay, Taal Volcano in Batangas, Hinulugang Tak-tak in Rizal, and Palaui Island in Cagayan.
Internationally-recognized areas are also included, namely, the ASEAN Heritage Sites Mount Timpoong-Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin, and Mount Iglit-Baco in Mindoro; and Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary in Tawi-Tawi.
“This legislation is timely, given the heightened public clamor to protect and rehabilitate our popular tourist spots,” says Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and principal sponsor of the act. “The Philippines’ rich biodiversity is a source of pride and joy for all of us Filipinos. We actively protect and strongly defend the breadth and depth of our territories to ensure that the future generation of Filipinos will still have the opportunity to take pride and find joy in our country’s rich biodiversity,” she added.
The law which amends Republic Act 7586, increases the number of protected areas covered by legislation from 13 to 107, for a total of 3 million hectares. It also recognizes conservation areas and the management regimes of local government units, communities indigenous peoples and other stakeholders for the establishment and management of protected areas.
“Institutional mechanisms are established for the mobilization of resources and for adequate scientific and technical support for the conservation of biodiversity and integrity of the ecosystem,” Villar added.