Press Release
December 21, 2017

Protect our marine creatures, help keep our oceans clean - Villar

STRESSING that the death of marine creatures like the endangered turtles (pawikan) will threaten our entire ecosystem, Senator Cynthia A. Villar urged the public to protect and maintain the cleanliness of their habitat-the oceans.

Villar, chair of the Senate environment committee, said the death of marine creatures will also have adverse effects on our livelihood and food sources.

She said one of the ways to protect our oceans is to avoid throwing plastic garbage in our bodies of water.

In her capacity as Senate environment committee chair, Villar said she is working on amending the 17-year-old Ecological Solid Waste Management law to hold accountable manufacturers that dump plastic wastes in rivers and seas.

Last month, Villar said she attended a panel discussion in Singapore, organized by the European Union, which dealt on ensuring a plastic-free ocean.

She said among the concerns raised in the discussion was the amount of wastes that reach led our oceans and eventually damaged our ecosystem and marine biodiversity. On top of that, she noted that those wastes kill marine creatures, including endangered turtles, which is integral to the ecosystem as they keep sea grass beds healthy.

Based on a University of Georgia study, the Philippines ranked third, next to China and Indonesia among 192 countries surveyed, in terms of volume of plastic wastes produced by the population that could potentially enter the seas and oceans.

"That truly alarmed me because marine plastic wastes pose an extreme danger to our country's marine natural resources," said Villar, adding that it is already among the common cause of the disease and death of animals.

"I am sure you have heard about increasing reports and incidents of whale sharks, turtles and other animals that get entangled in or ingest plastic wastes. We have seen photos of turtles hanging on (fish) nets or plastic straws stuck in their nostrils," said Villar.

She described as "very timely" the recently-concluded 12th Meeting of Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP12) as biodiversity and the protection of animals are among the major topics discussed.

She said the story of how the Pawikan Conservation Project in Bataan started way back in 1999 is a very good one. She said this is a good example on how the outlook of residents are changed by becoming more environmentally aware and better informed.

"It is truly good to know that the people who used to exploit the endangered turtles are now the ones protecting them," said Villar who was the Guest Speaker during the Pawikan Festival in Bataan.

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