Press Release
December 14, 2006


Senator Pia S. Cayetano today sponsored a total of 18 bills declaring various "biodiversity hotspots" across the country as protected areasfrom the famed Tubbataha Reef National Park in Palawan, to the lesser known Sinarapan Lake Sanctuary in Camarines Sur which hosts the world's smallest fish, known to local townsfolk as the "sinarapan."

Stressing the urgency of the measures, she said that while there are 103 proclaimed protected areas in the country , only eight are currently covered by laws. These are: Mt. Kanlaon, Mt. Apo, Mt. Kitanglad, Sagay Marine Reserve, Northern Sierra Madre, Mt. Hamuiguitan, Mt. Malindang and the Batanes islands.

"By declaring each of these 18 landscapes and seascapes as 'protected areas,' the government would be able to set up the mechanism needed to p rotect each one's biodiversity against destructive human exploitation like logging and poaching," said Cayetano, who chairs the senate committee on environment and natural resources.

Cayetano's 18 bills cover ten different areas in Luzon, three areas in the Visayas and five areas in Mindanao composed of the following:


1. Bessang Pass Natural Monument composed of 693 hectares of watershed and forest areas in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur. Aside from being the site of the historic "Battle of Bessang Pass" during World War II, the area hosts the Bessang and Matukbo creeks which flow into the Chico river and are considered as the cleanest inland water bodies in the ilocos Region;

2. Lidlidda-Banayoyo Protected Landscape - also located in Ilocos Sur, this hilly area of open forest, brushland, grassland and watershed is home to a variety of bird species and other diverse animal and plant life;

3. Agoo-Damortis Protected Seascape and Landscape - covers 19 barangays within the towns of Agoo, Sto. Tomas and Rosario in La Union. Its forests and wetlands are home to rich marine life and coral species that are now the subject of marine fossil research;

4. Mounts Banahaw and San Cristobal Protected Lanscape - covers 10,900 hectares spanning the provinces of Laguna and Quezon. The whole area is a critical watershed that drains into Laguna de Bay and Tayabas, supporting the Botocan Hydroelectric Power Plant in Majayjay and Luisiana, Laguna and sustaining the water needs of at least one million people;

5. Apo Reef Natural Park - spans a core area of 15,792 hectares and a buffer zone of 11,677 hectares in Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro and hosts the largest coral atoll-like reef in the Philippines;

6. Malampaya Sound Protected Landscape and Seascape - spanning 200,115 hectares in Taytay and San Vicente towns in Palawan, its endangered wildlife species include the Palawan Bear Cat, Palawan Porcupine and scaly anteater. It has forest landscape as well as watershed and water areas classified as "Extremely High Urgent" (EHu) for marine biodiversity conservation;

7. Tubbataha Reef Natural Park spans a reef area of 96,828 hectares under the municipal jurisdiction of Cagayancillo, Palawan. This 1993 UNESCO World Heritage Site and top scuba diving destination is also a RAMSAR site under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands which identified it as "Extremely High" for marine biodiversity conservation;

8. El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area - located in the municipalities of El Nido and Taytay in Northwest Palawan, this top tourist destination has four species of endangered marine turtles, 197 fish species including rare and endangered dolphins and whales, as well as 16 species of bird endemic to Palawan and 6 species of large and rare terrestrial mammals;

9. Sinarapan Sanctuary comprising four lakes within the municipality of Buhi, Camarines Sur, it is the known habitat and breeding area of the world's smallest fish (Mystiches Luzonensis), locally known as "sinarapan";

10. Tacdogan Reef National Marine Park - A known habitat of manta rays, this barrier reef with a depth of 30 feet is situated in the middle of Ticao Pass in the waters between Sorsogon and Masbate;


11. Northern Negros Natural Park - located on the northern portion of Negros Island, Negros Occidental and home to two globally endangered mammals: the Philippine Spotted Deer and the Visayan Warty Pig;

12. Central Cebu Protected Landscape composed of 29,060 hectares of watershed and forest areas straddling 40% of Metro Cebu, it hosts 74 endemic or indigenous faunal species, 11 of which are listed under the "highly threatened species" category;

13. Balinsasayao Twin Lakes Natural Park - covers 8,000 hectares, including two unique upland lakes located in Sibulan and San Jose, Negros Oriental. The area is the last remaining primary lowland forest in Negros that contains an important watershed with an appreciable level of biodiversity in terms of floral and faunal ecosystems;


14. Aliwagwag Falls located in the municipalities of Boston and Cateel in Davao Oriental and Compostela in Compostela province, its cascading waters 280 meters above sea level has a high potential for hydro-electric power generation to service the energy requirements of three provinces: Davao, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur;

15. Islands of Siargao and Bucas Grande covering 278,914 hectares of marine area and land area in nine municipalities in Surigao del Norte, the area has fabulous flora, 46.34% of which are considered endemic to the islands, and fauna that include 85 bird species, which are 65% endemic; nine amphibian species that are 33% endemic and 21 mammal species which are 67% endemic;

16. Mount Hilong-Hilong Range - covers 25,833 hectares in the city of Butuan and in three towns in Agusan del Norte. Logging activities threaten to wipe out its old growth forest and residual forest. The mountain range is also home to the critically endangered Philippine Eagle;

17. Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary located in Agusan del Sur, it is considered as the largest freshwater wetland ecosystem in the Philippines, supporting more than 15% of the fresh water resource in the country

18. Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary - nestled in the Sulu Sea, the islands are famed for harboring one of the world's ten remaining major nesting grounds for green turtles (Chelonia mydas). About 80% of the Philippines' remaining marine turtle resource is also found in the area

Protected areas, she said, refer to biologically important public lands that are habitats of rare and endangered species of plants and animals, bio-geographic zones and related ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine .

"It is crucial that we act on these measures now to ensure that our children and the succeeding generations will inherit a living earth with all of its bountiful natural resources and vibrant wildlife," Cayetano concluded.

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