Press Release
September 21, 2013

Villar leads Manila bay cleanup in LPPCHEA

SENATOR Cynthia Villar yesterday led the cleanup at Manila Bay in the Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA) as the world observes the International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day.

Tons of garbage gathered from Manila Bay and its shore were loaded in several trucks during the celebration of the global event with the theme "Working for Clean Beaches and Water."

The Villar Foundation, where Villar sits as its managing director, and the Las Piñas City government, in joining the 2013 ICC Day has for its theme "Bayanihan Para sa Malinis na Karagatan."

The senator, along with volunteers from various sectors, picked up garbage from Manila Bay and its shore in the LPPCHEA, known as the 'last bastion' in Metro Manila.

The senator was also joined by US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Thomas, Jr.; Presidential adviser for Environmental Concerns Neric Acosta, DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio; DENR Director Ma. Theresa Mundita Lim; Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary V/Admiral Danilo Cabalde, National Director and ICC Philippine Co-coordinator; PCGA Capt. Geronimo Reyes, ICC Philippines National Coordinator and Juan Dominquez and Adel Tamano, Coca-Cola Philippines Corporate Affairs Director and Coca Cola Public Affairs and Communications Vice President, respectively.

In his message, Thomas noted that over the last several years, the United States government, through the USAID, has devoted almost P2 billion to this effort to support the conservation program, to support the partnership and our peace corp. volunteers.

Thomas also said he was impressed by the number of enthusiastic people who joined the event at LPPCHEA.

LPPCHEA, a 175-hectare mangrove forest and marine habitat in Las Piñas and Paranaque, serves as sanctuary for dozens of bird species, including migratory birds from as far as Siberia. It is also a resting area for the globally threatened Philippine duck and Chinese egret. LPPCHEA was recently included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance, along with world-renowned Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park and the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park (Underground River), both found in the'' Philippines.

Villar noted Ramsar has recognized LPPCHEA's global importance to biodiversity and the need to give it special protection from various threats.

"The inclusion of LPPCHEA on the Ramsar List solidifies our stand to fight for it against planned reclamation projects. For an international treaty organization to recognize LPPCHEA's global importance to biodiversity, proves that the area is indeed a critical habitat and needs special protection from threats, including reclamation," said Villar.

Due to this, she cited the need to strongly adhere to Ramsar's recognition afforded to LPPCHEA by preserving and conserving it.

She said joining the world in celebrating ICC Day is one way to instill awareness on everyone to take care and keep our body of water and their shores and waterways clean, healthy and sustainable.

"This activity also reminds us that we should avoid indiscriminate throwing of garbage in the body of water as they could return to us during flooding," said Villar whose advocacy includes environmental protection and waste management.

For the better protection and management of our environment, Villar had filed a bill in the Senate, seeking for the creation of the Coastal Environment Program (CEP).

She said coastal environment are the most productive and biologically diverse landscapes known to man in an archipelagic country like the Philippines.

She had likewise vowed to elevate to the Supreme Court the Court of Appeals' decision dismissing her appeal for the grant of a writ of kalikasan to stop the plan to reclaim Manila Bay, saying it will cause massive flooding in 65 coastal villages in the cities of Las Pinas, Paranaque and Bacoor in Cavite.

Meanwhile, Villar said the Philippines has been an active participant in the ICC since 1994. It has consistently ranked second, next only to the US, in drawing the biggest number of volunteers.

In 2012, around 1,342,961 kgs garbage were collected, 834.6 kms have been cleaned and 143,946 volunteers participated in the ICC Day celebration in the Philippines.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources led by Sec. Ramon Paje and the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary are also in the forefront of the global cleanup day at Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.

Aside from students coming from different schools, the participants in yesterday's cleanup also came from the Senate of the Philippines, Office of the Solicitor General, DENR, DPWH, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, Laguna Lake Development Authority, the city government of Las Piñas, Paranaque and Quezon City, and the private sectors like Coca Cola Philippines, Toyota Philippines, and Philippine Airlines, among others.

The ICC, the world's largest volunteer effort, is being held every third Saturday of September. It was first celebrated in the United States in 1986. Its mission is to help clean the seas, lakes, and waterways and to raise awareness on the growing marine debris problem.

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