Palace assures Mt. Hamiguitan still a World Heritage Site

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Malacañang on Saturday assured the public that Mt. Hamiguitan would not lose its United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Site status.

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This came after a three-year old female Philippine eagle was found dead in the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a Unesco heritage site and protected area.

In a radio interview, Palace deputy spokesman Abigail Valte said that the Philippine government, through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), is doing everything to resolve the issue of the death of Philippine eagle “Pamana.”

“I think DENR already released a reward to get to the bottom, really, of what happened to ‘Pamana,'” Valte told government-run dzRB radio.

“I’m sure that everyone wants to make certain that we are not delisted and that we do not lose that designation,” she added.

Netizens exploded with anger and sadness over the killing. Some wanted an imposition of the death penalty as punishment for the shooter, while others blamed the lack of awareness on the importance of the Philippine eagle, which is close to extinction. Some environmentalists even said Pamana’s death could be a symptom of a much larger disease – the alarming gaps in the way the Philippines manages its natural treasures.

As a Unesco World Heritage Site, Mt. Hamiguitan receives annual funds from the national government and has a dedicated Protected Area Management Board, which is a multi-sectoral and decision making body for each of the protected area, that restricts access to critical portions of the mountain.

So far, the national government has released P10 million for Mount Hamiguitan’s protection, on top of funds to be allocated by the Davao Oriental provincial government, says Environment Regional Director Marc Fragada.

There are 13 forest guards protecting Mount Hamiguitan’s 6,800 hectares, says Fragada, or one guard for every 525 hectares of the mountain range. This is much higher than the national average of one guard per 2,300 hectares.

 

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