Philippines - IUCN

to the ancestral domain claims of indigenous peoples and NIPAS Act-designated ...... 2003-235, Declaring the Province of Bohol to be GMO-free or Free from.
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Legal Framework for Protected Areas: Philippines Antonio G.M. La Viña* James L. Kho** Mary Jean Caleda***

Information concerning the legal instruments discussed in this case study is current as of 14 March 2010.

*

Former Undersecretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources; currently Dean, Ateneo School of Government. ** Environmental lawyer; Senior Associate, Ateneo School of Government. *** Former Division Chief, Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau; currently Assistant Dean, Ateneo School of Government. The authors would like to acknowledge the comments provided by CENRO Felix Mirasol, and Errol Gatumbato, Carlo Custodio and Leonilo Rivera, former and current protected area superintendents.

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Philippines

Abstract This paper examines the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992 (Republic Act No. 7586) by looking into its legislative history, the legal and policy implications of its provisions, the changes the law has undergone since its enactment, and the pertinent issues concerning its implementation. The problems that are identified in this study essentially concern inconsistencies and overlaps between the NIPAS Act and other related laws which in turn create confusion regarding the powers and responsibilities of particular institutions. Notable among these conflicts is the one related to the ancestral domain claims of indigenous peoples and NIPAS Act-designated protected areas. This highlights the difficulty involved in harmonizing the aim of protecting the environment with the equally significant mandate to recognize the rights of certain groups. It has likewise been observed that while the Act provides penalties for prohibited activities within protected areas, and clearly sets forth its objectives and the environmental principles to be applied, its effective enforcement is hampered by disputes between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)—the primary implementing agency and administrator of the system created under the NIPAS Act—and local governments which sometimes assert jurisdiction over protected areas located within their respective territories. This is particularly true with regard to coastal and marine habitats that serve as important sources of livelihood and therefore contribute to the economic growth of a city or province. With these challenges in mind, the present study discusses the measures that have been, or ought to be, taken by the actors involved in the implementation of the Act in order to reconcile their jurisdictional disputes. The goal of the NIPAS Act to rationalize the management of all protected areas in the country is faced with another constraint: that of obtaining finances. It has been found that only a few protected areas are currently generating sufficient income, and the problem of low collection of fees can partly be attributed to the lengthy bureaucratic process for fund releases. The lack of funding and the tediousness of the process of formally establishing a protected area result in a situation where currently designated protected areas constitute a mere fraction of the scientifically identified priority biodiversity sites. The results of this study reveal that in certain instances community-based initiatives to preserve natural habitats can significantly complement government efforts. This suggests that decentralization of the management of protected areas is a feasible option, if not a more viable one, given the difficulties sometimes encountered by the national agency responsible.

IUCN-EPLP No. 81

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Philippines

Contents Acronyms and abbreviations . ..........................................................................................................    5 1

Introduction............................................................................................................................    6

Part I – Key elements