Press Release
August 17, 2013

Villar bats for the creation of Coastal Environment Program (CEP)

SAYING that coastal environments are the most productive and biologically diverse landscapes known to man in an archipelagic country like the Philippines, Sen. Cynthia Villar has recommended the creation of the Coastal Environment Program (CEP) to be appropriated with some funding.

In filing her proposed legislation, Villar noted that coastal environments are critical and often dominant ecological presuppositions of economic, social and cultural life.

Due to this, she said the protection and proper management of coastal environments are important concerns of the State and are explicitly mandated by the Constitution.

According to Villar, the adoption of CEP is within the objectives, provisions, scoping and principles of the Philippine Strategy for Sustainable Development (PSSD) and the Philippine Medium-Term Development Plan (PMTDP).

It is also within the actions and agreements adopted by the Philippine Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) related to the pursuit of the objectives of the Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Sustainable Development (UNCED) and of such other protocols and treaties to which the Philippines has committed to abide.

She said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shall be the lead agency in the implementation of the Coastal Environment Program Act of 2013.

The DENR shall consult and coordinate with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources of the Department of Agriculture, other concerned agencies such as Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources, Research and Development (PCAARRD), International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), and the University of the Philippines Marine Institute, and the local governments, whenever applicable.

She also said CEP activities shall, to all extent possible, involve local communities and sectoral organizations (POs, NGOs and LGUs) in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the activity.

All activities included in the CEP shall involve three (3) general phases: information, education and communication (IEC) campaign coupled with community organizing; introduction of intended interventions of package of developmental activities for eventual adoption by partner communities and sectors; and monitoring and evaluation of the activity to seek options and opportunities for follow-up and institutionalization.

Villar, a former three-time congresswoman of Las Pinas City, has been known for her advocacy in environmental protection.

She had earlier urged the Court of Appeals to reverse its decision rejecting her petition for the grant of a Writ of Kalikasan to stop the government from implementing the P14-billion Manila Bay reclamation project, saying it will cause massive flooding in 65 coastal villages in the cities of Las Pinas, Paranaque and Bacoor in Cavite.

The Writ of Kalikasan is a new legal remedy to protect the right of a citizen to a healthy environment.

She pleaded the CA to render judgment declaring "null and void" the ALLTECH Coastal Bay project for being violative of the petitioner's constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology.

The firm ALLTECH Contractors Incorporated is pursuing to reclaim 635 hectares of foreshore areas in Manila Bay beside the 175-hectare protected mangroves, lagoons and ponds known as the Las Pinas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA). It would reclaim land from the Manila Bay coastline in the cities of Las Piñas, Paranaque and Bacoor.

Villar asked the Supreme Court last year to stop the Manila Bay reclamation project as it may also destroy the remaining 175-hectare mangrove forest and marine habitat in Las Pinas and Paranaque that serve as home or resting spot for dozens of bird species, including the globally threatened Philippine duck and Chinese egret.

Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2007 issued Executive Order 1412 declaring the coastal lagoon as the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area and banning activities that would hinder its ecologically vital role as a bird sanctuary.

LPPCHEA serves as a sanctuary to migratory bird species from as far as Siberia. The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines said 72 of the 150 species of birds in Metro Manila are found at LPPCHEA.

It was recently included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, along with the world-renowned Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Underground River), both found in the Philippines.

"Ramsar has recognized LPPCHEA's global importance to biodiversity and the need to give it special protection from various threats," said Villar, adding that LPPCHEA is the so-called 'last bastion' in Metro Manila.

Ramsar is an intergovernmental treaty on the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources.

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