Press Release
February 8, 2014


AS the world observed the "World Wetlands Day," Senator Cynthia Villar has renewed her call to the public to protect the Las Piñas-Paranaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), and strongly oppose the plan to reclaim the area, which was included in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance.

She said joining the world in celebrating the World Wetlands 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.

"We should also stand up against any reclamation project on the area that will destroy our coastal environment, the most productive and biologically diverse landscapes known to man in an archipelagic country like the Philippines. This will do more harm than good," said Villar.

She noted that for an international treaty organization to recognize LPPCHEA's global importance to biodiversity proves the area is indeed a critical habitat.

"It needs special protection from threats, including reclamation," she stressed.

Due to this, Villar cited the need to strongly adhere to Ramsar's recognition of LPPCHEA by preserving and conserving this "protected area."

The recognition, she said, is a big honor not only for the cities of Las Piñas and Paranaque, but for the entire country.

"This is a very prestigious distinction," said Villar as she enumerated the other Philippine sites included in the Ramsar List as Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park in Sulu, Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, Naujan Lake National Park in Oriental Mindoro, Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Cebu and Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park in Palawan.

'February 2 is celebrated as the World Wetlands Day to mark the anniversary of the signing of the convention on Wetlands of International Importance or Ramsar Convention in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971.

The Convention on Wetlands is an intergovernmental treaty that embodies commitments of its member countries to maintain the ecological character of their Wetlands of International Importance and to plan for the "wise use", or sustainable use, of all of the wetlands in their territories.

The Philippines joined the Ramsar Convention in 1994. Signatories to join the Convention agree to "include wetland conservation considerations in their national land-use planning," and commit to implement and promote "the wise use of wetlands in their territory."

Villar likewise related she is facing an uphill battle in her legal fight to stop the proposed reclamation at Manila Bay.

She has filed a petition with the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals dismissed her appeal for the grant of a "writ of kalikasan" to avert reclamation project in the area.

She has insisted the reclamation will cause massive flooding 65 coastal villages in the cities of Las Piñas, Paranaque and Bacoor in Cavite. It would worsen floods in shoreline areas.

She warned that if there will be another typhoon 'Ondoy,' flood water will go as deep as .15 meter up to 5.23 meter in 37 barangays in Bacoor, 17 barangays in Las Piñas and 11 barangays in Parañaque.

"Five meters is equivalent to a two-storey building so that we will all go be submerged in flood water," said Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on Government Corporations and Public Enterprises.

The proposed Manila Bay reclamation project will bring about catastrophic damages, which included damage to the bird sanctuary as well as to the mangrove forest and marine habitat.

LPPCHEA serves as a sanctuary to migratory bird species from as far as Siberia.

The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines said Metro Manila has 150 species of birds, 72 of which are found at LPPCHEA. It is the only bird sanctuary located in an urban setting.

Villar recently delivered a privilege speech in the Senate, calling for a stop to reclamation in Manila Bay. She called on her colleagues to rethink and revisit the powers of the Philippine Reclamation authority which has the sole authority over reclamation projects.

The senate hearing on this issue was scheduled on February 11.

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