Press Release
March 22, 2021

Sen. Villar cites the critical importance of water

RECOGNIZING the value of water in our lives, Sen. Cynthia Villar has been at the forefront of sustainable water programs and initiatives, starting with the rehabilitation of Las Pinas-Zapote River and fighting for the conservation of the Las Pinas-Parañaque Wetland Park (formerly known as LPPCHEA).

"Let us make our waterways and bodies of water safe and healthy for our own safety, health and survival. Water is a life-sustaining resource," stressed Villar as she joined the observance of World Water Day on March 22.

Sen. Villar acknowledges the critical importance of water resources, which could be readily seen from the programs, advocacies and legislative measures she has been pursuing.

Sen. Villar's Sagip Ilog/Rehabilitation of the Zapote-Las Piñas River won for her the United Nations "Best Practices Award" in 2011 due to its outstanding contribution towards improving the living environment and its demonstrable and tangible impact on improving people's quality of life within a metropolitan river basin.

The Sagip Ilog program involves the daily collection of floating wastes, like water lilies which were used for weaving handicrafts and coconut husks which were processed into coco nets for slope protection and coco peat used as potting mix and organic fertilizer. To this day, the Las Piñas-Zapote River continues to play an important role as a "life artery for the people of Las Piñas and nearby cities". Sen. Villar noted that the rehabilitation of the river paved the way for social enterprises that provided livelihoods to residents.

The lady senator is at the forefront of stopping reclamations in Manila Bay that will destroy the Las Pinas-Parañaque Wetland Park, a 182-hectare critical habitat of wildlife that is also a Ramsar-listed wetland of international importance. It may be recalled that she filed a Petition for Writ of Kalikasan in 2012 against the reclamation bound to encroach upon the area of the said wetland. In 2018, the wetland was given t a protected area status upon the enactment of RA No. 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System Act.

Sen. Villar is likewise one of the staunchest advocate of the Manila Bay clean-up, being more actively done now under the Duterte administration, in compliance with the writ of continuing mandamus issued by the Supreme Court ordering 13 national government agencies and the local government units to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and make its waters fit for swimming and other forms of contact recreation. For the lady senator, "The rehabilitation of Manila Bay is not just for beautification. It is very important to preserve its role as cradle of biodiversity because our people are dependent here for livelihood. About 300,000 fishermen get their fish supply from Manila Bay."

There are other initiatives pursued by Villar for water safety and sanitation, such as the Baseco clean-up, which also included the planting of mangroves and installation of toilet facilities on homes, including the installation of communal septic tank and water waste treatment.

As environment committee chairperson, she has conducted hearings on the following water-related issues so those responsible in water pollution will be obliged to act:

- Environmental degradation of the water resources in Boracay;

- Lack of waste water treatment facilities and services in urban areas, with emphasis on NCR;

- Denuded state of forests and watersheds which substantially contributed to the heavy flooding during typhoon Ulysses.

Sen. Villar also filed SB No. 2036 National Wetlands Conservation Act, SB No. 1914 or the BIDA bill which calls for a better environmental protection mechanism to ensure the sustainable ecological conditions of Boracay amidst its development and SB No. 336 or the Rainwater Harvesting Facilities Act.

For her tireless efforts and 'pivotal role' to address water concerns, Villar received the 'Kampeon ng Katubigan' award from the DENR- NCR's World Water Day Philippines Awards 2018.

World Water Day celebrated on March 22 is about what water means to people, its true value and how we can better protect this vital resource.

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