Greenpeace to DENR: opening of protected areas to special private use is ‘wrong move’

Press release - May 8, 2018
08 May 2018, Manila, Philippines - On Friday, May 4, Department of Environment and Natural Resources Sec. Roy Cimatu announced that protected areas are now open to special private use by applying for a special use agreement in protected areas, or SAPA. According to news reports, the SAPA will “provide access and economic opportunities to indigenous peoples, tenured migrant communities and other stakeholders” of protected areas.”[1]

Vince Cinches, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines political campaigner, said:

"Greenpeace is very concerned over this development, and we fear that this move will do nothing but open the protected areas to exploitation. Lifting the moratorium on issuance of special permits will not protect nor lift people from poverty, but rather expose our indigenous peoples to further abuse and oppression.

"At present status, the utilization of some of our country’s protected areas do not have a General Management Planning Strategy (GMPS), as subscribed by Rule 10 of DENR Administrative Order 2008-26[2], that is why even current protected areas are still being ravaged by destructive human activities such as mining, quarrying, fishing, farming, and general disregard for environmental protection laws. It was the reason why SAPA was suspended in the first place, because this violates the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) law.

"It is important to note that human activities are still allowed in the identified buffer zones of protected areas, as long as these would not impair the integrity of the strict protection zone.

"In some protected areas with GMPS, allowable human activities are not enumerated, because all activities are subjected to clear impact assessment. The revival of SAPA is in violation of the spirit or general objectives of the NIPAS, and will only enrich a few, worsen the current environmental problems and poverty situation in the Philippines.

"We would like to remind the Philippine government that our environment is not for sale. The environment does not belong to businesses that only seek to suck it dry with profit, but rather it belongs to the future generations, according to the Oposa vs. Factoran Supreme Court decision[3] on intergenerational responsibility to a healthy and balanced ecology.

"Let us not allow greed to lord over our constitutional right to a balanced and healthful environment. Our protected areas belong to the Filipino people, and we are but just stewards of this beautiful place that is our country. It belongs to the future generations that they would still have natural places to appreciate and enjoy. We owe it to our children, and we sincerely hope the DENR will remember that."
Notes to the editor:
[2] DENR Administrative Order 2008-26
For more information, contact:
Vince Cinches, Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines
| +63 949 889 1336
Angelica Carballo-Pago, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia - Philippines
| +63 949 889 1332