STRESSING that the Philippines is biodiversity-rich, but also among the world’s biodiversity hotspots or those areas experiencing high rates of habitat loss, Sen. Cynthia Villar urged the public to be more vigilant against biodiversity loss, wildlife protection and conservation of their habitats.
“What makes the issue even more important to our country is the fact that the Philippines is one of the world’s 17 megadiverse or biodiversity-rich countries, which hosts two-thirds of the Earth’s biodiversity,” said Villar in her privilege speech in observance of the World Wildlife Day celebration last March 8.
The biodiversity-rich countries, Villar said, contain about 70 to 80 percent of the world’s plant and animal species.
Due to this, the Senate chairperson of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, underscored the need to create awareness on biological diversity and take action about its protection.
She warned that any damage or loss will cost too much for our country. More here chronic disease transmission. She said researches indicated that the constant exploitation of wild fauna and their habitats had raised the risk of zoonotic disease transmission (or the transmission of disease from animal to human).
Furthermore, she said the need to protect our wildlife resources finds critical relevance now as we continue to battle the ill-effects of the COVID-19 virus.
As a legislator and environmentalist, Villar said she has been pursuing various programs and legislations to
conserve and protect places like rivers and wetlands.
She pushed for the amendment of Republic Act (RA) 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act which was passed into law in 1992. The Act provides the legal framework for the establishment and management of protected areas in the country.
She also strongly opposed the planned reclamation of a critical habitat in her home city of Las Pinas—LPPCHEA or the Las Piñas–Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area, also known as Las Piñas–Parañaque Wetland Park.
“We share the habitat of wildlife, thus we are both sustained by them, too. Destruction of those habitats translate to loss of livelihood and economic opportunities for people,” said Villar as she noted that was one of the points she insisted in objecting to the planned reclamation.
She said the reclamation would disrupt the livelihood of thousands fisherfolks and urban poor who depend on the wetland for their daily sustenance.
Just last week, Villar said she filed Senate Bill No. 2078 or the “Revised Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2021,” amending the 20-year-old RA No. 9147.
The bill seeks to strengthen the wildlife conservation and protection mechanism in our country as the incidence of wildlife crimes has evolved and grown, violators have become more equipped, organized, and syndicated or with international connections.