Press Release
October 26, 2006

Senate President bats for speedy enactment of
marine conservation and biodiversity bills

Senate President Manny Villar, President of Nacionalista Party, is seeking bicameral support for his twin proposals aiming to put in place the institutional framework and sound mechanism for the protection and preservation of the countrys vast underwater cultural and aquatic resources.

The proposal are ombodied in Senate Bills 725 and 726, which Villar had filed long before he took over the helm of the Senate.

The measures have recently gained prominence, with the scheduled launch next week of a program aiming to preserve the countrys marine resources and retaining its standing as a center of marine biodiversity in the world.

Villar has given his full support for the program, in tandem with diving enthusiast from the Philippine National Police Scuba Divers Association (PNPSDA).

More than fixing our political and economic problems, Congress must come face to face with the serious threats and challenges to our environment, particularly our marine ecology, and formulate sound and sustainable programs that would give the country a niche in the global ecological protection and conservation effort, Villar said.

In keeping with this advocacy, the Senate President has pledged to take an active roles in the efforts protect the countrys beaches and oceans from explotation and ecological degradation.

For this effort, Villar was invited to participate in at two-day-clean up drive along the coastal bays of Batangas on Oct. 28-29, kicking the activity off at the Divers Sanctuary in San Luis town. The event is being organized by the PNPSDA.

Dubbed as Dive to Protect and Conserve, the activity aims to collect underwater garbage that gradually destroy coral reefs.

Sen. Villar said that after fixing the countrys fiscal woes, it is time for Congress to focus its energies on environment-related measures. He pledged to give priority to these pending proposals when sessions resume next month.

Senate Bill 725 on the Underwater Cultural Heritage in the Philippines Waters Act aims to protect and preserve the countrys underwater cultural heritage by providing for general requirements for underwater archaeology, exploration and excavation.

The measures also pushes for the formulation of the rules for the description of items to be protected; prohibition of the certain activities in the vicinity of a protected item or site; establishment of a reward system for verified reports; and, imposition of sanction and penalties for the abuse of underwater cultural heritage.

On the other hand, Senate Bill 726 or the Biodiversity Protection and Bioresource Development Act seeks to put in place measures that would insure the biodiversity of existing terrestrial, aquatic, and agricultural resources of the country.

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