Press Release
June 24, 2021

Villar bats for 2 more protected areas under NIPAS, tackles bills on arboretums

Senator Cynthia A. Villar has vouched for 2 more protected areas (PAs) to be under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) so that ecologically rich, unique areas and biologically important public lands can be effectively managed by the government.

At present, Villar, chair of the Senate committee on environment and natural resources, said the country has a total of 107 total legislated protected areas. She noted that the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018 facilitated the legislation of 94 more PAs in addition to the 13 PAs legislated under the old NIPAS law.

Villar filed separate bills to support ecological processes of the additional 2 more protected areas. They are Senate Bill No. 1713 or an Act Declaring Mount Arayat Protected Landscape,

and Senate Bill 1712 or An Act Declaring Hinakpam Mystical Hills Natural Monument.

Located in the municipalities of Magalang and Arayat in Pampanga, Mount Arayat is a key biodiverstiy area, considered a center of plant endemism with endemic tree species like the Arayat Pitogo and other rare flora like tibig, molave and tumbang.

On the otherhand, the Hinakpam Mystical Hills Natural Monument in Negros OrientaL has a unique biological features like geologic formation of karstic conical hills, caves, sinkholes and valleys. It has ecotourism potential.

Earlier, Villar filed 5 other bills to include additional protected areas under NIPAS. They are the following:

-SB No. 2276 declaring a parcel of land in Naga and Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay a protected landscape to be called Naga-Kabasalan Protected Landscape. The initial assessment by DENR Region IX and Zamboanga Sibugay LGU in 2006 showed that its biological, physical and cultural resources are at risk and may face severe damage if current economic destructive activities will be unabated.

-SB No. 2277 declaring 2 parcels of land within Sicogon Island, Carles, Iloilo, a wildlife sanctuary to be called Sicogon Island Wildlife Sanctuary. Its interesting biodiversity calls a need to declare the 282.867 hectares remaining forest land of the island a protected area.

-SB No. 2278 declaring a parcel of lot in Balbalan, Kalinga, a protected landscape to be called Banao Protected Landscape. Dubbed as the "green heart" of the Cordillera, the park, known as the Balbasang-Babalan National Park, it is a rich biodiversity and landscape of the Cordillera mountain region with some of the most intact pine foress and rich endemic flora and fauna.

-Senate Bill No. 2279 declaring a parcel of land in the municipalities of Gregorio del Pilar, Quirino, Sigay, Cervantes, and Suyo, Ilocos Sur a protecred landscape. The Tirad Pass Narional Park in Ilocos Sur is the only remaining mosh forest in the region, showcasing a rich terrestial ecosystem.

-Senate Bill No. 2280 declaring a parcel of land in Kabayan, Bokod and Buguias, all in Benguet; Tinoci, Ifugao and Kayapa, Nueva Vizcaya, a protected landscape. Mt. Pulag National Park is the highest peak in Luzon and second highest mountain in the Philippines. Its wildlife includes threatened mammals such as the Philippine Brown Deed, Northern Luzon Giant Cloud Rat, the Luzon Pygmy Fruits bar.

NIPAS was established by virtue of RA No. 7586, as amended by RA No. 11038, known as the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018.

Villar said the NIPAS Act declared it is the policy of the State "to secure for the Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals through the establishment of comprehensive system of integrated protected areas."

The system, Villar noted, shall encompass ecologically rich, unique and biologically important areas that are habitats of threatened species of plants and animals, biographic zones and related ecosystem, whether terrestial, wetland or marine.

Meanwhile, Villar is also pushing 3 bills establishing Aboretums or areas devoted to specimen planting and cultivation of woody plants which are either trees or shrubs for ecological, research, educational and recreation purpose.

They are the following: SB No.1243- Act establishing the Mindanao State University- Lanao del Norte Agricultural College Arboretum, SB 1244- Act Establishing The Mighty Cave Park Arboretum in Tagoloan, Lanao del Norte and SB 1245- Act Establishing The Kolambugan,Lanao de Norte Arboretum.

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