MENRE personnel in Tawi-Tawi trained on protected area management

Turtle Islands. Map courtesy of Google

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 30 June) — Technical experts from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have trained personnel of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Energy (MENRE) to manage the Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (TIWS).

MENRE’s takeover of the TIWS was pursuant to Republic Act 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The management and administration of TIWS was formally turned over last May 23 by DENR – Region 9, which had been overseeing the sanctuary since 1996.

MENRE will start managing the TIWS in July.

Crisanta Marlene Rodriguez, DENR-9 regional director, said they conducted a six-day training and orientation workshop on protected area management to MENRE personnel in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi on June 21 to 26.

“Our office is dedicated to extend technical assistance to the new managers and stakeholders of TIWS. We are sharing the knowledge and experiences that we have gained in the past three decades, which can serve as their foundation for a stronger and effective management of the protected area,” she said.

As part of capacitating them, the participants underwent basic scuba diving lessons, lectures on protected area management and environmental laws, and field practicum on biodiversity monitoring system for terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems.

President Joseph Estrada issued Presidential Proclamation No. 171 declaring TIWS as a protected area on August 26, 1999, pursuant to Republic Act 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992.  The TIWS became one of the 94 newly-legislated protected areas under RA 11038 or the E-NIPAS Act of 2018.

Saido Espiliro, Community Environment, Natural Resources and Energy Officer, lauded the technical experts from DENR-9 for capacitating them.

“The knowledge and experiences shared by the different facilitators will be put into use, to continue the legacy of protecting and conserving the TIWS,” Espiliro said.

Roservirico Tan, chief of DENR-9’s Regional Strategic Communication and Initiatives Group, said that Turtle Islands is globally recognized as one of the most important nesting ground for the endangered green sea turtle and the critically endangered hawksbill turtle.

MENRE Minister Abdulraof Macacua earlier stressed the need to continue protecting and conserving the TIWS to keep the beauty of the islands.

The TIWS is composed of the six islands of Boan, Taganak, Baguan, Great Bakkungan, Lihiman and Langaan, all under the municipality of Turtle Islands in Tawi-Tawi. Three other islands belong to Malaysia:  Selingaan, Little Bakkungan, and Gulisaan, and they comprise the Turtle Islands Park of Sabah, Malaysia.