Press Release
January 8, 2008

Angara moves to declare Subic-Bataan Natural Park, Casecnan Protected Landscape as protected areas

Senator Edgardo J. Angara has filed two bills declaring "biodiversity hotspots" such as Subic-Bataan Natural Park (SBNP) and Casecnan Protected Landscape as protected areas.

"The Philippine ecosystem is the hottest among the 'biodiversity hotspots' because it has the most number of species, but unfortunately, the rate of habitat destruction in our country is also one of the highest in the world," Senator Angara lamented.

The SBNP is the site of the last vestiges of virgin forests in the Zambales Biogeographic Zone. "This area is highly vulnerable to exploitation because it harbors tree species of high commercial value, it is therefore necessary to declare SBNP as a protected area."

Recognizing the importance of the Casecnan River which supports major irrigation project and hydroelectric power pant as well as the domestic water requirements of the communities, Angara created the Casecnan Protected Landscape Act of 2007 aimed at preserving the Casecnan Protected Landscape which forms part of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range, the Caraballo Mountain and Mamparang Mountains .

It is home to various wildlife resources, some of which are unique and endangered species like the Philippine Eagle, Hornbill, Kingfisher, Philippine deer, cloud rat and wild pig.

"The passage of these bills will be a major leap towards the sustainable development and management of our ecological treasures," he stressed.

Angara added that the establishment of protected areas is globally considered as one of the most effective strategy for preserving and conserving biological diversity.

In his effort to safeguard and preserve the country's cultural heritage, Angara also created the Cordillera Terraces Authority (CTA) of 2007. The CTA shall formulate a 10-year Cordillera Terraces Master Plan for the preservation and restoration of the Terraces in the region.

"The Ifugao Rice Terraces, known as the 8th Wonder of the Old World, is the living testament to the Ifugao's mastery of watershed ecology, terrace engineering, and water distribution."

Ifugao Rice Terraces significantly forms part of the Rice Terraces of the Philippine Cordillera, whose terraces and culture were inscribed in the World Heritage list in December 1995 under the category "living cultural landscape" having both natural and cultural characteristics of outstanding universal significance.

Unfortunately, the condition of the terraces has continuously deteriorated. In 2001, it was placed in the World Heritage List in Danger.

"This bill is a first step towards an overall terraces management and preservation strategy with the goal of establishing a permanent, efficient, and effective body to coordinate and lead efforts to safeguard, restore, and protect the Terraces of the entire Cordillera region," he said.

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