DIRECTOR Theresa Mundita Lim of the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) said the Protected Areas Management Board (PAMBs) should open a bank account for Integrated Protected Areas Fund (Ipaf).
Lim expects PAMBs to pass a resolution to that effect.
She also called on concerned local government units (LGUs) to play a more active role in the management of the protected areas (Pas) across the country. She said that, with the implementing rules and regulation of a law mandating the automatic retention of revenues generated in the operation of PAs.
“We expect LGUs to be more active in managing our PAs,” she said.
Local officials sit as member PAMBs in areas where PAs exist.
“Each PAMB should create their own account where they will deposit 75 percent of their total collection from fees,” she said.
Before, all the revenues generated by PAs are deposited in the National Treasury.
“We are hoping that, with the Ipaf in place, they will be more decisive in thinking of ways to protect the PAs and at the same time, generate revenue through various activities,” she said.
Many of these PAs, she said, have ecotourism potentials. She said many of these areas are being developed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in partnership with the Department of Tourism (DOT) and concerned LGUs.
PAMBs are the highest policy-making bodies in charge of declared PAs under Republic Act (RA) 7586, or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (Nipas) Act. It is mandated to formulate plans and programs to protect the PAs in partnership with concerned national government agencies.
There are currently 240 PAs, each with a PAMB headed by either the regional director of the DENR, or the heads of the provincial, city or municipal environment and natural resources office.
Some of these PAMBs, however, are unable to implement various programs because of lack of funds. Although these PAs generate revenues from various fees, especially from local and foreign tourists, the managers of the PAs had requested for a long time for the funds to be released to them. Often, it takes a year before they are able to get funding barely enough to maintain them.
“I hope that the IPAF automatic retention law will inspire our PAMBs to work harder,” she said.
She said the PAMBs should abide by the guidelines set under the joint circular issued by the DENR and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
The 240 PAs—ranging from large natural parks, to landscapes, to wildlife and marine life sanctuaries—recognized under the Nipas cover a total of 5.45 million hectares, or more than 18 percent of the country’s total land area.
The DENR and the DBM issued a joint circular retaining 75 percent of all revenues generated by a PA to activities deemed necessary to protect and rehabilitate the PAs.
The joint circular was signed by Environmental Secretary Ramon J.P. Paje and Budget Secretary Florencio B. Abad last month.
Ipaf is a trust fund under the Nipas Act as amended by RA 10629. It is comprised of all earnings generated from operating a PA, including taxes from the permitted sale and export of flora and fauna and other resources from protected areas, proceeds from lease of multiple-use areas, contributions from industries and facilities directly benefiting from the PAs, and such other fees and other incomes derived from the operation of the PA like entrance fees and from ecotourism activities.
Under the joint DENR-DBM circular, PAMBs will now remit only 25 percent of the Ipaf to the National Treasury. It will be placed in the Special Account in the General Fund, along with revenues remitted by the PAs prior to the effectivity of the guidelines.
Revenues from other sources shall be deposited to the National Treasury as trust receipts in an account separate from revenues generated from operational activities.
The retained earnings can only be used to fund implementation activities specified under a Protected Area Management Plan and should be approved by the PAMB. The fund, however, excludes personnel service expenditures.