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Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu hailed the inclusion of the Sasmuan Pampanga Coastal Wetlands (SPCW) in the Ramsar Convention's List of Wetlands of International Importance as a demonstration of the country's commitment to protect wetland ecosystems.

"The Sasmuan Pampanga Coastal Wetlands fulfills four criteria of the Ramsar Convention, which confirms the international significance of its biodiversity and its services both at the species and ecosystems level," Cimatu said in his keynote speech delivered by Undersecretary for Attached Agencies and Chief of Staff Rodolfo Garcia.

USec Garcia delivered the speech during the virtual celebration of the 50th World Wetlands Day that was organized by the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) on Tuesday, February 2.

"Wetlands are not wastelands. The success stories of the wetlands of Boracay Island, Manila Bay Rehabilitation as well as the Pasig River, are testament to that," Cimatu said. "Wetlands, like water, play a vital role not only in our planet’s health but also in our life and wellbeing."

Cimatu expressed his commendation to DENR-Region 3, Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office-Pampanga and the local governments of Sasmuan and Pampanga for their hardwork and dedication to make SPCW's recognition happen.

"We are honored and fortunate that the annual celebration of World Wetlands Day has become more significant and special because the SPCW is now officially declared as a Wetland of International Importance," DENR-Region 3 Executive Director Paquito Moreno Jr. said.

Moreno said SPCW, which covers over 3,500 hectares of coastal waters and four barangays in Sasmuan town in Pampanga province, is the first Ramsar Site in Central Luzon.

Ramsar Convention on Wetlands Secretary General Martha Rojas-Urrego also congratulated the Philippines on the inclusion of the SPCW to the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance or as a Ramsar Site.

The SPCW joins the roster of officially declared Ramsar Sites around the world as Ramsar Site No. 2445.

“Today, 171 Contracting Parties, including the Philippines have signed the Convention. Collectively these countries have designated a total of 2,414 Wetlands of International Importance, known as Ramsar Sites. On February 2, 2021, Sasmuan Pampanga Coastal Wetlands joins this prestigious list of wetland-protected sites as the 8th Ramsar Site in the Philippines,” Urrego said.
The Convention on Wetlands is an international treaty for the conservation and wise use of wetlands. Also known as the Ramsar Convention, it is named after the city of Ramsar in Iran where the convention was signed in 1971.

Since the accession to the Convention on November 8, 1994, the Philippines has designated eight Wetlands of International Importance.

World Wetlands Day is being celebrated every February 2 to raise global awareness about the vital role of wetlands for people and our planet.

Presidential Proclamation no. 74 series of 1999 also declares February 2 of every year as National Wetlands Day in recognition of immense importance of wetlands to the welfare of the Filipino people and the protection of global biodiversity.

The theme for this year's World Wetlands Day celebration is "Wetlands and water." #