The Las Piñas – Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area
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I. The LPPCHEA and the problem it faces
In an urban environment like the Metro Manila, it is rare or maybe quite impossible to find a place we can call a “sanctuary”, a sanctuary for the environment, for animals and for humans. However, somewhere in the south area of the Metro lays this ecosystem we can somehow call a sanctuary. Bounded by the borders of the Las Pinas River on the south and Paranaque River on the north is the Las Piñas – Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area.
The Las Piñas – Parañaque Critical Habitat and Ecotourism Area or the LPPCHEA is “a 175-hectare protected area that consists of mangroves, lagoons and ponds located in the Manila Bay coastal area in the cities of Las Piñas and Parañaque. This mangrove forest and marine habitat also serves as a Bird Sanctuary for endemic and migratory birds.” As declared by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources or the DENR, the LPPCHEA is the first Critical Habitat established in the country. There are about 80 “Avian residents” which serves as the “visitors of LPPCHEA” as they migrate from country to country, or even continent to continent. Some of which is the Philippine Duck, Great Egret, Grey Heron, Yellow Bittern, Osprey, Eurasian Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, and many more.
For so many years, these “coastal wetlands” have served its purpose for these different types of birds, helped maintain marine life and habitat and at times, also contributed to the city’s protection and provided a breathing space for residents and people in Manila. But all this may change if the “Philippine Reclamation Authority or the PRA pushes through with extensive reclamation and real estate development plans in that part of Manila Bay.” According to Inquirer Opinion article by Liuag, the proposed Three Island Reclamation and Development Project, a P14-billion joint venture of the PRA and Cyber Bay Corporation, involves 635 hectares of upscale private residential, commercial and tourism estate. This project is planned to be constructed just beside the LPPCHEA. The Wild Bird Club of the Philippines or the WBCP is totally against this and continually defends the maintenance of the Habitat and Ecotourism Area. The Development Plan not only will destruct the habitat and flyway of less than a hundred birds, this can also destroy marine life and habitat and make a big number of fisher folks and other lowly workers lose their source of income and livelihood.
II. Private Companies, the National Government and Subjective Alternatives The problem with our system here in the Philippines is that the government does not prioritize our environment. They forget that without our environment, there would be no human beings, there would be no people to govern, no government. They disregard its strengths, vulnerability and contributions to national development. It is our only habitat and any destruction we make to it is not curable or not so for a hundred to thousand years. They decide on what to do with the environment like they can control it, like they know it so well and can predict its phenomenon. For the WBCP, concerned Environmental groups and advocates of the LPPCHEA along with fisher folk and urban poor communities, protection of the area is a continuous struggle. As much as they are for development, they prioritize the environment and what is good, or maybe better for it. Opposition to “development plans” is pro-development for the environment and its habitants.
This problem can be greatly related to the program I am taking up now, Political Science. Ideally, the fight for the maintenance and protection of the LPPCHEA is a justifiable fight. With the environmental laws that they could front for the opposition of the project, the chance of winning is big. However, the ideal is never close to reality. These laws are beautifully written on paper yet they are hardly implemented. There are a great number of Philippine Environmental Laws and I am sure also a great number of these cover the defense for the case the LPPCHEA faces. Proclamations 1412 and 1412-A as “legal bases for the existence of LPPCHEA” can also be the bases of what the development plan may violate and take against the law. Another factor that affects this is that the Private Sector has a significant influence to the government and their decisions. They always connive with the government and its gullible bureaucracy.
Money becomes the basis of decision-making. This upsetting fact has been a problem of “Power Allocation” for a long time already in Philippine History. Politics being defined as the study of who gets what, when, where and how, is closely linked to power and its allocations. Social Classes is a great determinant of power allocation. As far as power is concerned, it is obvious that the PRA and Cyber Bay Corporation have a greater influence to the government than that of the advocates and the management council of the LPPCHEA. Whatever the steps of both sides may wish to take and continue to struggle with, the National Government has the last say on the problem. And it is only with them we can ask and hope for the best decision for our environment, our friend animals and the people. III. Sustainability in Development
It has always been my belief that environmental treatment, protection and development lack support from our government. They disregard what is really important and worthy of support in terms of time and money. They always go around the departments with inappropriate funding. What must be for the environment goes to the pockets of greedy little men and doesn’t go to its respective department leading to the destruction of our environment. We must help our environment. It is not enough we talk about it, we must make a move. For me, the best way to fight for our environment is fight for it legally.
Legal Actions are concrete actions, in some way it only doesn’t help the current generation but the generations of the future. Also, I believe that education is a key and a turning point for a lot of change in our environment. We must advocate the improvement of the Study of Science, particularly the study of Natural Science, Sustainability and Good Development. Great minds are products of a great environment and they must always think of what is best for it. And lastly we must engage and be aware. We must live with utmost care and concern for our environment for it has always been caring for us. We must always always take into thought and action that there must not be Destruction in Development but Sustainability in Development, or what we may hopefully call Good Development.
http://wikimapia.org/20376773/Las-Pi%C3%B1as-Para%C3%B1aque-Critical-Habitat-and-Ecotourism-Area-LPPCHEA http://ncr.denr.gov.ph/index.php/transparency-governance/citizens-charter/89-webpage/142-lppchea http://opinion.inquirer.net/7679/avian-residents-visitors-of-lppchea