Drilon assures passage of Pasonanca watershed bill PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 June 2015 09:06

Senate President Franklin M. Drilon on Thursday vowed to speed up passage of a bill that seeks to declare the 12,000-hectare  Pasonanca watershed as a protected area to conserve endangered flora and fauna in the area.

In a statement, Drilon said the Pasonanca watershed was Zamboanga City’s principal source of water that must be preserved and protected. “At least 90 percent of the natural park is still intact with secondary and primary growth forest trees. The residents are seeking the protection of the watershed, including the wildlife in the area,” he said.

Drilon added that he had already asked the committee on environment and natural resources chaired by Senator Loren Legarda to fast-track its approval.

The bill is among a slew of pro-environment measures under Senate Bill 2712 which the Senate is set to deliberate on the floor, noted Drilon.

Similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by then District 2 congressman Erbie A. Fabian.

Meanwhile, Zamboanga City District2 Rep. Lilia Macrohon-Nuño, who authored  House Bill 4506, also known as the Pasonanca Natural Park Act, in the House of Representatives,  said the immediate enactment of the Pasonanca bill into law by Congress and President Aquino was urgent because of the encroachment of informal settlers in the area who endanger its wildlife and ecosystems. The bill was approved in the House of Representatives a few weeks ago.

“The Pasonanca watershed is the life blood of the city. We use its water for drinking as well as for agricultural and industrial purposes. The increasing number of informal settlers in the area is endangering the watershed’s existence and we urgently call on the Senate to pass the bill,” Nuño said.

According to Nuño, Pasonanca watershed is home to diverse species of fauna, including the endangered species of Philippine raptor, notably the Philippine eagle.

Likewise, she said, flora was abundant in the area and widely distributed in the different types of ecosystems.

“Considering the unique biological resources that exist in the area, we want to ensure that these are protected and conserved for future generations, including the people and the communities residing therein as well as their way of life,” Nuño said.

Once the proposed measure is enacted into law, she said, the park’s administrators, to be headed by a representative from the Protected Area and Management Board (PAMB), would draw a 10-year management plan that would include ecotourism, habitat and wildlife management, sustainable use of resources, infrastructure development and maintenance, enforcement of laws within the park, fire prevention, pest control, among others.

To ensure the conservation of the park, Nuño said, administrators would impose sustainable and non-destructive livelihood activities among the residents or indigenous communities within the area.

“The management plan will include a zoning plan, which will illustrate the boundaries, classification and management of specific zones and activities to be allowed or prohibited for each zone,” Nuño said.

For instance, she explained, some areas would be barred from human activities and would only be opened for research studies.

“We will monitor all activities within the protected area and its buffer zones to ensure that these are in conformity with the management plan. We will also prosecute offenders who violate the park’s rules and regulations,” Nuño said.