Press Release
December 15, 2021

Sponsorship Speech of Senator Cynthia A. Villar
Revised Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act

Mr. President, my fellow senators, I am pleased to sponsor today Senate Bill No. 2465, under Committee Report No. 402. This refers to "An Act Strengthening the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Mechanism in the Philippines, Amending for this Purpose Republic Act No. 9147, Otherwise Known as the 'Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act', Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes"

The said Committee Report was prepared and submitted jointly by the Committees on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change; Finance; and Sustainable Development Goals, Innovation and Futures Thinking. SB No. 2465, which I am sponsoring now is in substitution of Senate Bill Nos. 2078 that I authored and Senate Bill No. 2079 authored by Sen. Zubiri and Binay, taking into consideration House Bill No. 9833, the counterpart bill passed on third reading by the House of Representatives.

As a backgrounder, Republic Act No. 9147 or the current Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, enacted in 2001, is a measure that provides the necessary environmental policy enabling Philippine government to manage and conserve the wildlife resources of the country comprehensively. It was enacted in keeping with the country's commitment under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora or CITES, the Convention on Biological Diversity or CBD, and the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals or CMS. RA 9147 includes a list of illegal acts that are considered detrimental to wildlife with corresponding penalties, such as imprisonment or fines, or both, that are intended to serve as deterrent for violative acts against wildlife and their habitats.

The Philippine enforcement authorities were able to apprehend perpetrators of wildlife offenses under the provisions of Republic Act No. 9147 over the years; however, nowadays there are many other violations that remain rampant and undetected because the landscape has changed since its enactment. There is an evolution of wildlife crimes due to globalization. Open borders and better transport infrastructure also permitted access of illegal wildlife trade syndicates to previously remote areas, while the internet gave unprecedented access to new markets. The two-decades-old Wildlife Act must be strengthened to address the growing scale and sophistication of wildlife crimes. There is a need to develop a more stringent legal framework, improve enforcement mechanisms, and strengthen inter-agency cooperation against illegal wildlife trade. We need to give more "teeth" so to speak to existing policies and laws to help enforcement authorities also to apprehend violators. And that's what Senate Bill 2465 seeks to provide — to fortify the mechanisms in place to afford better protection to our wildlife resources.

Senate Bill 2465 or the Revised Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection bill, I am sponsoring now, will provide the timely or relevant amendments to RA 9047. These include the following, among others:

  • It addresses the crime of "wildlife trafficking" by providing its definition and commensurate penalties, and other strategies to deter the devious schemes of wildlife syndicates that are large- scale and transnational;

  •  It includes control and management mechanism for invasive alien species, that threatens the survival of our local plants and animals;

  •  It provides guidelines on the collection, possession and transport of wildlife, its by-products and derivatives;

  •  It recognizes the jurisdiction of Palawan Council for sustainable Development (PCSD) and the Bangsamoro Government (BMG) over wildlife species in their respective territories.

  •  The DENR, DA, PCSD (Palawan Council for Sustainable Development), and the Bangsamoro Government, as applicable, are given the power to exercise administrative adjudication in cases of violations and may cause the confiscation, forfeiture and final disposition of wildlife, its by-products and derivatives, as well as tools and conveyances;

  •  It provides increase in the penalties (imprisonment and/or fines) for illegal acts to serve as deterrent for the commission of wildlife crimes; and

  • Provisions on the applicability of the disputable presumption that wildlife offenses have been committed.

Strengthening wildlife protection is crucial to the Philippines, which is considered as one of the world's 17 megadiverse or biodiversity-rich countries, which collectively hosts two-thirds of the Earth's biodiversity and contain about 70 to 80 percent of the world's plant and animal species. The Philippines harbors one of the highest concentrations of unique wildlife species in the world. Yet, it is also a biodiversity hotspot with high levels of threats from habitat loss, invasive alien species (IAS), climate change, pollution, and overexploitation. Thus, this calls for us to take action on the protection of our wildlife because any damage or loss will cost too much for us.

We owe it to the future generation to conserve and protect our wildlife resources. It is part of our duty to leave this world better than we found it. Let us make sure that the future generations will still actually encounter and co-exist with an abundance of plants and animals, and not just see them in old pictures.

In closing, Mr. President, esteemed colleagues, I earnestly seek your support for the swift passage of the Revised Wildlife Resources conservation and Protection bill.

Thank you and isang maka-kalikasang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

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