Fisherfolk calls Cimatu’s order on protected areas “anti-environment”

Fisherfolk calls Cimatu’s order on protected areas “anti-environment”

Retired armed forces chief, Roy Cimatu (L), head of the Philippines’ Iraqi crisis management team, confers with National Security Adviser Roilo Golez during a briefing at the National Security Council in suburban Quezon, north of Manila, 11 March 2003. Cimatu has instructed the Philippine embassy staff in Baghdad to relocated to Amman in Jordan amid signs of an imminent US-led war on Iraq. AFP PHOTO/JAY DIRECTO / AFP PHOTO / JAY DIRECTO

Manila, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has earned the ire of the activist fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) over the resumption of the special use agreement for protected areas (SAPA), saying this opens the floodgates for environmental destruction to the country’s pristine protected areas.

SAPA allows protected areas such as strict nature reserve, natural park, natural monument, wildlife sanctuary, protected landscapes and seascapes to be used for agroforestry, ecotourism, communication and power facilities, irrigation canals, aquaculture, and for weather and other scientific monitoring facilities.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2011 suspended the issuance of SAPA.

In a statement, PAMALAKAYA National Chairperson Fernando Hicap said the lifting of the suspension of SAPA lays open our preserved areas such as forest and marine zones to corporate activities that pose environmental disaster.

With the resumption of issuance of SAPA, protected areas will be more vulnerable to various forms of corporate plunder embedded with environmental destruction. It will further the conversion of preserved marine areas into mere ecotourism zones and private aquaculture farms,”

“What Cimatu did was far from being a top environment chief for exposing delicate protected areas to unrestrained commercialization and privatization. He is now actually the number one destroyer of our environment, being an instrument of environmental plunderers to legally carry out large-scale projects at the expense of our environment and socio-economic lives of grassroots stakeholders such as fisherfolk and farmers,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.

As of 2013, there were 240 protected areas covering 4.07 million hectares of terrestrial areas and 1.38 million hectares of marine areas managed by the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) under the DENR.

We demand the DENR to cease from exposing our natural resources both to local and foreign environmental predators and do its mandate to protect our environment for the long-term benefits of the Filipino people,” ended Hicap. ###

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