The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has welcomed the enactment of laws establishing five more protected areas under the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS), which brings to 112 the total number of legislated protected areas nationwide.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte recently signed into law Republic Act (RA) 11684 or the Mt. Arayat Protected Landscape Act; RA 11685 or the Mt. Pulag Protected Landscape Act; RA 11686 or the Naga-Kabasalan Protected Landscape Act; RA 11687 or the Tirad Pass Protected Landscape Act; and RA 11688 or the Banao Protected Landscape Act.

With the legislation of new protected areas, DENR Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna believes that “more people are realizing the importance of placing biologically important areas under the intensified protection of the Expanded NIPAS Act of 2018.”

“We welcome these recent developments in additional protected areas from our legislators. May this be the impetus of further environmental protection in more biologically important and related conservation areas,” Sampulna said.

It will be recalled that in 2018, RA 7586 or the NIPAS Act of 1992 was amended by RA 11038 or the E-NIPAS Act, which also legislated 94 protected areas under the System.

Meanwhile, DENR-Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) Director Natividad Bernardino reminded the community and the local government units near the concerned sites to “cooperate with the DENR in the sustainable management and effective administration of these newly legislated protected areas.”

The potentially active stratovolcano, Mt. Arayat Protected Landscape is located in Pampanga, while Mt. Pulag Protected Landscape, a dormant volcano and the third highest mountain the Philippines, straddles the provinces of Benguet and Ifugao.

Located in Mindanao, the Naga-Kabasalan Protected Landscape is a karst area of about 3,132 hectares covering two watersheds, Tipan and Busyawan, with perennial springs draining towards Bacalan River and then to Sibuguey Bay.

The Tirad Pass Protected Landscape is a historically important landmark in Ilocos Sur as the site of the heroism of Gen. Gregorio del Pilar during the 1899 Philippine–American War.

The Banao Protected Landscape in Kalinga is a merger of the Balbalasang-Balbalan National Park and Banao watershed area, and is home to the Banao tribe.

“Our laws would be futile if people near these areas would violate them, so we urge those who live near these areas to help the DENR in its mission to conserve these sites for the benefit of their children and grandchildren,” Bernardino said. ###