Press Release
June 22, 2021

Villar calls for wetland protection; pursues initiatives to avert any reclamation near the buffer zone of Las Pinas Paranaque Wetland Park

ACKNOWLEDGING the significance of biodiversity conservation, Senator Cynthia Villar, who has been at the forefront of protecting the Las Pinas- Paranaque Wetland Park (LPPWP), yesterday enjoined more advocates, especially the youth, to join her in this endeavor.

In her keynote address on webinar during the 3rd Anniversary of LPPWP as a Protected Area, Villar expressed hope to sustain the momentum of what "we have been doing to protect LPPWP all these years. "

LPPWP, formerly known as Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area (LPPCHEA), has been included on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance in May 2013. It was declared a protected area by virtue of the enactment of RA No. 11038 or the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018.

"While LPPWP is indeed a showcase of biodiversity conservation in Metro Manila, we envision it to be the premiere learning environment for urban wetlands in the Philippines," stressed Villar, chairperson of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources.

According to the senator, a staunch environmentalist, they are exerting all efforts to make LPPWP a model of sustainable eco-tourism at its best, "while ensuring that its natural ecological attributes are not compromised."

"I have been involved in the conservation of the wetland park for two decades now. I was taken in by its simple but scenic natural attributes and its functionality. It is the lone natural wetland park in the entire Metro Manila and its lush mangrove cover has been giving the residents of my city protection against flooding, high tides and storm surges," noted the Nacionalista Party senator.

But since the wetland park is in the metropolis where development projects abound, Villar said it faced its biggest threat-- the planned reclamation by Alltech Contractors sometime in 2010.

To ward off the reclamation, Villar, along with 315,849 residents, filed a Petition for Writ of Kalikasan with the Supreme Court in 2012, insisting it would prejudice residents of Las Pinas, Paranaque and Bacoor, among other reasons.

Although the SC has not issued its final decision in the case, Villar said she believes that Alltech's reclamation project was mooted. She said the late DENR Sec. Gina Lopez in 2017 cancelled the ECC for the reclamation project. On June 22, 2018, the then LPPCHEA was declared a legislated protected area.

Despite protected area status, Villar conceded the threat of reclamation is far from over. She cited a number of proposed reclamation projects in Cavite, Parañaque City and in other cities in Metro Manila near the wetland park.

Due to this, Villar said she is actively pursuing the establishment of substantial area of buffer zones on the waters of Manila Bay that will provide ample protection to the wetland park.

The ENIPAS law provides for the establishment of buffer zones surrounding the protected areas, when necessary, for the purpose of providing extra layer of protection to the protected area. Buffer zone refers to identified areas outside the boundaries of designated protected areas that need special development control in order to avoid or minimize harm to the protected area.

At present, she said the DENR - ERDB (Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau), under the direction of DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, is conducting its research on the matter which she has been monitoring.

"I want to ensure that no reclamation projects should be pursued if it will only threaten the survival of LPPWP. The wetland park, its protection and its functionality should not be compromised because its existence is intended to benefit the present and future generations," she emphasized.

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