The mayors of three municipalities surrounding Mount Mingan in Nueva Ecija recently signed a covenant to increase protections for the Philippine Eagle habitat, the Haribon Foundation announced.
Mayors Rolando S. Bue of Gabaldon Nueva Ecija, Sherwin H. Taay of Dingalan, Aurora, and Mariano S. Tangcon of San Luis, Aurora signed an agreement to restrict certain activities and promote proper management of production zones to protect the biodiversity found in this central part of Sierra Madre in response to illegal forest activities around Mt. Mingan, a protected area that is a habitat for the endangered Philippine Eagle.
The signing comes at a time when Philippine Eagle numbers in the wild are estimated to be less than 1,000 in the entire country.
“Maliit man na hakbang, pero sa maliliit na hakbang na ‘to nagsisimula para makamit natin ang ating layunin (These are small steps; but small steps that mark the beginning of achieving our goals),” Atty. Ricardo Lazaro Jr., the director of City Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija commented at the signing ceremony.
Mt. Mingan is also home to other endemic species like the newly-discovered coral plant, furry cloud rats, and the rafflesia, known as one of the largest flowers in the world.
‘Ikaw ang Buhay Ko’
Lazaro expressed his strong support for the Critical Habitat Protection of Mt. Mingan. He stressed that people must understand the importance of Philippine Eagles in their lives. This inspired him to coin the phrase, “Ikaw ang buhay ko. (You are my life).”
Mt. Mingan was declared a protected sanctuary in 2014, after researchers from conservation group Haribon Foundation confirmed in an expedition the discovery of an adult pair and a juvenile Philippine Eagle – the latter fondly named by the community as Gab-E (Gabaldon Eagle).
Philippine Eagles are important bio-indicators, in that their presence signifies a healthy forest ecosystem.
Strong environmental policies and programs that protect Haring Ibon will require support from local groups, schools, and organizations, Lazaro added.
Rose Ann dela Cruz and Sam Manalastas/Haribon Foundation