Press Release
April 19, 2006

To maintain RP's distinction as among the world's top dive sites

Senator Manny Villar, President of the Nacionalista Party, says now more than ever, the continued preservation and protection of local underwater resources should be ensured particularly coral reefs which add significantly to the attraction of popular dive sites in the country.

"We should not rest on the laurels heaped on the world-renowned dive sites in our country. We should do everything we can to preserve and protect our natural resources which have been valuable assets to tourism in our country," says Villar.

The Philippines is named as among the top three dive sites in the world during the recently concluded Dive and Travel Awards for 2006 held in Japan. The award was based on a survey by the Marine Diving Fair Asia's largest scuba diving and beach resort exhibition. The other top dive sites are Maldives and Palau.

To aid in the preservation of all dive spots in the country, Villar filed Senate Bill 732 or the Coral Reefs Protection and Preservation Act which seeks for the creation of reservation areas for the preservation and protection of the coral reefs.

"The illegal activities of man have led to the unabated destruction of the coral reefs in the Philippines. Despite the colossal damage done to the coral reefs, there is minimal effort to preserve and protect these natural gifts," cites Villar on his bill.

Villar also supports the campaign of the tourism sector to develop more dive sites or resorts in the country to further boost tourist arrivals. Some the internationally popular dive sites in the country are: the Tubattaha Reef in the Sulu Sea; Malapascua in Cebu; Balicasag island off Bohol; Anilao, Batangas; Apo Island in Dumaguete and Puerto Galera in Mindoro.

The bill seeks the creation of a National and Regional Council for the Preservation of the Coral Reefs. The following acts will also be prohibited: destruction of the coral reefs; harvesting of coral reefs; illegal fishing activities prejudicial to the preservation of the coral reefs; dumping of mine tailings and other industrial wastes; and other acts or activities which will result in the destruction of the reserved areas. Violators will be slapped with a fine of not less than P500,000 but not more than P1 million or imprisonment for at least one year but not more than six years or both.

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