Protection of rich natural resources in West Philippine Sea pushed
MANILA, Philippines — Palawan Rep. Edward Hagedorn seeks to declare the Kalayaan Island Group and Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal, and the three nautical miles around it as a protected area.
House Bill No. 6373 was filed on Thursday by Hagedorn, who stressed that the government should prioritize the protection of natural resources in the West Philippine Sea.
The bill’s explanatory note cited the significant environmental degradation in the disputed waters that affected the Mischief Reef, Cuarteron Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, Gaven Reef, Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, and Subi Reef.
“The protection of the rich marine resources and environment of the West Philippine Sea is a shared interest and responsibility of all adjoining states around the South China Sea, which should be a guiding policy for all of us in the region,” Hagedorn said in a statement.
He added: “We all stand to gain or to lose depending on the outcome of our collective actions while we settle our territorial disputes. Through this bill, we hope for the Philippines to help initiate and spark this regional cooperation.”
Other co-authors of HB 6373 were Palawan Reps. Edgardo Salvame and Jose Chavez Alvarez.The measure proposes that the environment secretary also designate strict protection zones in areas with significant biodiversity values or habitats of threatened species.
It also prohibits the following acts in the marine protected area: fishing practices that destroy coral reefs, seagrass beds and marine life; dumping and using toxic chemicals, nonbiodegradable materials, and untreated wastes; littering or depositing refuse; using blasting caps or explosives;
Undertaking mineral exploration or extraction; introducing exotic species and genetically modified or alien species; constructing and maintaining fences, structures, and enclosures; etc.
A Protected Area Management Board and Protected Area Management Office for the Kalayaan Island Group and Scarborough Shoal will be created to lead the protection and preservation of the area.
The measure also proposes a P10 million yearly budget to implement measures to protect the marine protected area in the West Philippine Sea.
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