The Asean Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) has expressed support for a proposal to amend Republic Act 9147 or the Philippine Wildlife Act, a 20-year-old law that promotes the protection and conservation of plant and animal species, including their habitats in the country.
In a statement addressing the Senate on two bills (SB 2078 and 2079) amending RA 9147, Theresita S. Lim, executive director of ACB, also backed the move to consolidate the two measures to update the Philippine’s Wildlife Act.
“We appreciate this timely effort to revise and enhance this 20-year-old Wildlife legislation, considering the opportunity afforded us by the Covid-19 pandemic to reexamine the way we deal with wildlife, our biodiversity, including the immensely rich and multiple benefits we can derive from the sustainable use of these biological resources, and the genetic materials they can provide,” Lim said.
Lim agreed with Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri that the illegal collection of genetic resources is depriving Filipinos of monetary benefits from the development of these genetic resources.
She said under the ongoing global negotiations on the post-2020 global biodiversity framework at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, discussion on ways and means to integrate the international concerns on digital sequence information may help ensure that countries like the Philippines get their fair and equitable share of the benefits from the utilization of data and information derived from wildlife resources, including genetic information, used for commercial purposes.
“These developments at the global level may further enrich the amendments to the Wildlife Act, specifically those that are aligned with the country’s priorities and can be effectively implemented on the ground,” she added.
Lim, a former director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB), also favored amending the provisions on wildlife trafficking and wildlife laundering in the two bills.
During her stint as DENB-BMB chief, Lim had lamented the fact that with the current Philippine Wildlife Act, Philippine authorities are like a “toothless tiger” because violators of the law often get away almost unpunished.
Lim was then advocating for higher fines and penalty for violators of the law to deter crimes, particularly those that engage in wildlife trafficking, a major driver of biodiversity loss.