AGHAM – Advocates of Science and Technology for the People joins this year’s celebration of the International Day for Biodiversity. Today, we reiterate our calls against destructive reclamation, big mining and mega dam projects that continue to threaten and harm our rich terrestrial and marine biodiversity.
The Philippines is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world, hosting up to 52,177 described species or 60–70% of the world’s biodiversity. It also belongs to the Top 10 countries in terms of endemism. Some of the biodiversity hotspots in the country include Sibuyan Island, dubbed as the “Galápagos of Asia”, and the Verde Island Passage, considered as the center of the center of marine shore fish biodiversity in the world. The Philippine’s rich forests and seas, especially these biodiversity hotspots, provide invaluable ecosystem services such as provision of food and livelihood to communities that depend on them.
Despite their importance, our terrestrial and marine ecosystems face various threats that are often ignored by the government or even perpetrated together with private corporations that aim to extract natural resources at the expense of the environment and communities. For example, reclamation projects are ongoing in various parts of the country, particularly Manila Bay. These reclamation projects, particularly San Miguel Corporation’s Aerotropolis project in Bulacan, have already destroyed coastal ecosystems such as mangrove forests and mudflats, yet the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) refuses to implement a moratorium on these projects while their assessment on their impacts are still ongoing. The DENR has also failed to act against destructive mining in Sibuyan Island. They also seem to be not interested in supporting the conservation efforts of the Masungi Georeserve, an internationally-recognized eco-tourism project that is continuously fighting destructive quarrying projects in the province of Rizal. They also remain silent on the ongoing environmental destruction and displacement of indigenous Dumagat-Remontado due to the Kaliwa Dam.
The DENR’s failure to crackdown destructive projects will contribute to the further decline of Philippine biodiversity. As we celebrate the International Day for Biodiversity today, AGHAM calls on the environment agency to uphold its mandate and heed the calls of the people to protect the environment instead of coddling corporations that destroy the environment. ###