DENR-12 seeks protected status for Sarangani Bay

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 May) — Environment personnel in Region 12 are pushing for the passage within the next two years of a proposed law that would establish the coastal waters of Sarangani Province and this city as a protected seascape.

Dr. Ali Hadjinasser, chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ protected areas and wildlife division, said they are set to submit to the Senate and the House of Representatives a draft measure that would formally set up the Sarangani Bay Protected Seascape.

He said the draft bill, which is currently undergoing review and “fine-tuning,” seeks the establishment of the entire 211,913-hectare Sarangani Bay as a protected seascape and the provision of appropriate funds by the national government for its management and for other purposes.

The protected seascape will cover this city and the coastal municipalities of Maitum, Kiamba, Maasim, Alabel, Malapatan and Glan in Sarangani.

Hadjinasser said the proposed law is mainly anchored on the provisions of Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 and Presidential Proclamation 756, which initially declared the bay as a protected area in March 1996.

“The measure specifically calls for the annual appropriation of funds in the national budget for the management, protection, and conservation of the entire Sarangani bay area,” he said in a statement.

The official said the bill also pushes for the creation of a regular protected area office, setting up of a management regime, formal organizational structures and other related arrangements.

Hadjinasser said they pushed for the passage of such measure to ensure the protection and conservation of Sarangani Bay’s “economic, biological, socio-cultural, educational and scientific values for the enjoyment of the present and future generations.”

He said it will help foster widespread awareness and concern for the critical bay area and set off the implementation of comprehensive and holistic promotional activities, trainings and information campaigns for the protection and preservation of its resources.

“While Sarangani Bay is rich in coastal and marine resources, including the famed tuna, its existence and health is threatened by pollution from the surrounding populations and industries,” he stressed.

Hadjinasser said Senator Loren Legarda, who chairs the Senate environment and natural resources committee, has agreed to sponsor the measure.

He said Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel Pacquiao and South Cotabtao (1st district) Rep. Pedro Acharon have also signified to sponsor it in the House of Representatives.

“We’re hoping that it will be passed into law before the term of the present Congress ends,” he added. (MindaNews)