August 8, 2022

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the measure seeking to declare a portion of the Philippine Rise—also known as the Benham Rise—as a protected area would be part of the campaign to utilize and conserve the integrity of the country’s marine ecosystem.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros, in filing Senate Bill No. 146, said the measure seeks to add a layer of protection for the pristine habitats of the Philippine Rise—a vast seamount found in the Eastern Philippine Seaboard facing the Pacific Ocean—and establish the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve Management Board (PRMRR PAMB), which will supervise the area. 

“It will also prohibit the destruction and hunting of any wildlife,” Hontiveros said in the explanatory note of the bill.

The senator noted the majority of the Philippine Rise has always been within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). But on April 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UN-CLCS) adopted the recommendation granting additional 13 million hectares as part of the country’s territory.

Under the bill, the PRMRR PAMB will not only manage the protected area but also approve policies, plans and programs, and any agreements for the management of the protected areas. 

It will also be tasked to recommend the deputation of appropriate agencies and individuals who will enforce the laws, rules and regulations governing the management of the Philippine Rise. 

Also under the bill, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shalle nsure that the PAMB will act within the scope of its powers and functions. In case of conflict, the latter shall prevail. 

The bill also includes a provision for a Special Fisheries Management Area (SFMA) within the PRMRR that would be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The DA-BFAR shall be in charge of monitoring all the fishing activities within the SFMA. 

Hontiveros’ bill also seeks to prohibit acts within the PRMRR such as poaching, killing, destroying, disturbing of any wildlife within the protected area; hunting, taking, collecting, gathering or possessing of any wildlife or by-products or resources, whether living or non-living within the protected area without the necessary permit, or authorization or exemption.

The bill also prohibits the use of any fishing or harvesting gear or any practices that would harm or be detrimental to coral reefs, seagrass or seaweed beds or other marine life and associated habitats. 

The mere posessioin of such gears within the protected area, Hontiveros said, shall already be prima facie evidence of their use. 

The bill also bans the dumping, throwing of any toxic chemical, noxious, or poisonous substance or non-biodegradable material, untreated sewage or animal waste products in the Philippine Rise, in compliance with Republic Act No. 6969, or the “Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.”

The measure also bans any move altering, or removing any boundary marks, buoys or signs in the protected area. 

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the measure seeking to declare a portion of the Philippine Rise—also known as the Benham Rise—as a protected area would be part of the campaign to utilize and conserve the integrity of the country’s marine ecosystem.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Hontiveros, in filing Senate Bill No. 146, said the measure seeks to add a layer of protection for the pristine habitats of the Philippine Rise—a vast seamount found in the Eastern Philippine Seaboard facing the Pacific Ocean—and establish the Philippine Rise Marine Resource Reserve Management Board (PRMRR PAMB), which will supervise the area. 

“It will also prohibit the destruction and hunting of any wildlife,” Hontiveros said in the explanatory note of the bill.

The senator noted the majority of the Philippine Rise has always been within the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). But on April 2012, the United Nations Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (UN-CLCS) adopted the recommendation granting additional 13 million hectares as part of the country’s territory.

Under the bill, the PRMRR PAMB will not only manage the protected area but also approve policies, plans and programs, and any agreements for the management of the protected areas. 

It will also be tasked to recommend the deputation of appropriate agencies and individuals who will enforce the laws, rules and regulations governing the management of the Philippine Rise. 

Also under the bill, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shalle nsure that the PAMB will act within the scope of its powers and functions. In case of conflict, the latter shall prevail. 

The bill also includes a provision for a Special Fisheries Management Area (SFMA) within the PRMRR that would be under the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The DA-BFAR shall be in charge of monitoring all the fishing activities within the SFMA. 

Hontiveros’ bill also seeks to prohibit acts within the PRMRR such as poaching, killing, destroying, disturbing of any wildlife within the protected area; hunting, taking, collecting, gathering or possessing of any wildlife or by-products or resources, whether living or non-living within the protected area without the necessary permit, or authorization or exemption.

The bill also prohibits the use of any fishing or harvesting gear or any practices that would harm or be detrimental to coral reefs, seagrass or seaweed beds or other marine life and associated habitats. 

The mere posessioin of such gears within the protected area, Hontiveros said, shall already be prima facie evidence of their use. 

The bill also bans the dumping, throwing of any toxic chemical, noxious, or poisonous substance or non-biodegradable material, untreated sewage or animal waste products in the Philippine Rise, in compliance with Republic Act No. 6969, or the “Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act.”

The measure also bans any move altering, or removing any boundary marks, buoys or signs in the protected area. 

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