Press Release
March 4, 2021

Villar Files Bill To Strengthen Wildlife Protection In PH

Senate Bill No. 2078 will amend R.A. No. 9147 or the "Wildlife Resources Conservation & Protection Act Of 2001

Senator Cynthia Villar, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, filed a bill to strengthen wildlife protection and conservation in the country, just in time for the observance of World Wildlife Day today (March 3).

Senate Bill No. 2078 or "An Act Strengthening The Wildlife Conservation And Protection Mechanism In The Philippines" will amend Republic Act No. 9147, Otherwise Known As The "Wildlife Resources Conservation And Protection Act Of 2001".

RA No. 9147 is as a measure that provided the necessary environmental policy enabling Philippine government to manage and conserve the wildlife resources of the country comprehensively. But according to Villar, the 20-year old law needs to be amended violations remain rampant and many are even undetected.

"Wildlife crimes have also evolved, violators have become more equipped, organized, and syndicated or with international connections. Likewise, the trade and transport of wildlife species have become wide-scale and transnational in nature. Thus, we need to give more "teeth" so to speak to existing policies and laws to help enforcement authorities", said Villar.

The senator added that the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic intensifies the need to protect wildlife resources to prevent the risks of zoonotic diseases or the transmission of disease from animal to human.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, habitat loss forces animals to move to areas populated by people, who become exposed to the pathogens of animals that in turn spread viruses. "Destruction of natural habitats has been linked to the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola, HIV, swine fever and avian flu. More than two thirds of these diseases originate in animals, and about 70% come from wild animals, or what is referred to as zoonotic diseases.

There were studies also suggesting that COVID-19 virus may have originated from bats and that the first people infected were traders in bat meat, who may have subsequently visited the Huanan seafood market, where the virus spread was first traced.

The Philippines is one of the world's 17 megadiverse or biodiversity-rich countries, which hosts two-thirds of the Earth's biodiversity and contain about 70 to 80 percent of the world's plant and animal species. So, wildlife protection is crucial.

"We need to not only create awareness but to take action because any damage or loss will cost too much for a country such as ours. There is so much at stake and we become vulnerable to the adverse side effects if we do not act fast. Thus a stronger law and an even stronger enforcement of it is crucial. Senate Bill 2058 which I filed yesterday will provide timely or relevant amendments to RA 9147" Villar said.

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