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Alfonso, Carlo P.

JD4202

The possible loss of biodiversity in the Philippines, its adverse ramifications to our flora
and fauna, and the State’s actions to conserve and protect our species pursuant to the
mandate of the Constitution and other laws such as P.D. No. 705, R.A. Nos. 7586,
8550, 9147 and 9729.

Biodiversity is the existence of many different kinds of plants and animals in an


environment.1 "Biological diversity" means the variability among living organisms from all
sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the
ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species,
between species and of ecosystems.2 The underlying question is what is the importance
of biodiversity? Does it even have a significance to our environment? Biodiversity is
important because it maintains the balance in our ecosystem which humans are very well
part of. There are 5 core and interacting values that humans place on biodiversity3 namely
Economic, Ecological life support, Recreation, Cultural, and Scientific. As to its economic
value, biodiversity provides humans with raw materials for consumption and production
that are beneficial to many livelihoods. On the ecological life support aspect, it provides
functioning ecosystems that supply oxygen, clean air and water, pollination of plants, pest
control, wastewater treatment and many ecosystem services. Moreover, many
recreational pursuits such as hiking, camping and fishing rely on the unique biodiversity.
Likewise, it has also relevance in cultural value such as in the Philippines where a
biodiversed environment has become part of our cultural heritage. Lastly, biodviersity
has impact on science for it represents a wealth of systematic ecological data that help
us to understand the natural world and its origins.
The Philippines is one of the few mega-diversity countries in the world when it
comes to multifariousness of ecosystems, species and genetic resources. Many of the
island comprising the archipelago are believed to have a very high degree of land and
animal endemism. The country hosts more than 52,177 described species of which more
than half is found nowhere else in the world.4 On a per unit area basis, the Philippines
probably harbors more diversity of life than any other country on the planet. However, the
country is also considered a biodiversity hotspot because we continue to experience an
alarming rate of destruction of important resources caused by overexploitation,
deforestation, land degradation, climate change, and pollution.5 Consequently, what

1
Merriam-Webster
2
Article 2, Convention on Biological Diversity (1993, available at: https://www.cbd.int/intro/default.shtml (last
accessed December 10, 2017)
3
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO; Morton & Hill 2014)
4
Philippine Biodiversity Conservation Priorities: A second iteratioin of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action
Plan, 2002
5
Retrieved at: http://bmb.gov.ph/388-protection-and-conservation-of-wildlife/facts-and-figures/786-status-of-
the-philippine-biodiversity (last accessed: December 15, 2017)
could be the effect of the loss of biodiversity and its adverse ramifications in the World’s
flora and fauna, or at the very least, to the Philippines’? According to University of
Michigan ecologist Bradley Cardinale, "Loss of biological diversity due to species
extinctions is going to have major impacts on our planet, and we better prepare ourselves
to deal with them.”6 The disappearance of biodiversity in the Philippines means the
relentless decrease in our natural resources, animals, and forests. Hence, it will result to
an imbalance in our ecosystem which could affect the aforementioned core values that
depend on the presence of biodiversity.
Turning a blind eye about these environmental issues will benefit no one and will
cause an irreparable damage to our lives. Fortunately, the State is compassionate
enough to understand the possible negative consequences if these matters are left
unresolved. Thus, the State has enacted laws that mandate the conservation and
protection of our environment. As as early as 1975, then President Ferdinand Marcos has
enacted P.D. 705 or the Forestry Reform Code of the Philippines, which has, among
others, the policy to protect, develop and rehabilitate forest lands to ensure their continuity
in productive condition. Furthermore, R.A. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected
Areas System Act of 1992″ hereby declared the policy of the State to secure for the
Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence of all native
plants and animals through the establishment of a comprehensive system of integrated
protected areas within the classification of national park as provided for in the
Constitution. In 1998, the Philippine Fisheries Code was passed to ensure, inter alia, the
rational and sustainable development, management and conservation of the fishery and
aquatic resources in Philippine waters including the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and
in the adjacent high seas, consistent with the primordial objective of maintaining a sound
ecological balance, protecting and enhancing the quality of the environment. In addition,
the State has adopted the policy to conserve the country's wildlife resources and their
habitats for sustainability pursuant to Republic Act No. 9147 or the Wildlife Resources
Conservation and Protection Act. In the pursuit of this policy, this Act shall have the
following objectives: to conserve and protect wildlife species and their habitats to promote
ecological balance and enhance biological diversity; to regulate the collection and trade
of wildlife; to pursue, with due regard to the national interest, the Philippine commitment
to international conventions, protection of wildlife and their habitats; and to initiate or
support scientific studies on the conservation of biological diversity.
Few years later, the State has enacted Republic Act No. 9729 otherwise known as
Climate Change Act of 2009. Recognizing the vulnerability of the Philippine archipelago
and its local communities to potential dangerous consequences of climate change such
as damage to ecosystems and biodiversity loss that affect the country’s environment,
culture, and economy, the State shall cooperate with the global community in the
resolution of climate change issues, including disaster risk reduction. To this end, it shall
be the policy of the State to enjoin the participation of national and local governments,
businesses, nongovernment organizations, local communities and the public to prevent

6
Ecosystem effects of biodiversity loss could rival impacts of climate change, pollution, Ann Arbor (2012), retrieved
at: http://ns.umich.edu/new/multimedia/slideshows/20366-ecosystem-effects-of-biodiversity-loss-could-rival-
impacts-of-climate-change-pollution (last accessed: december 15, 2017)
and reduce the adverse impacts of climate change and, at the same time, maximize the
benefits of climate change. One of the salient features of Climate Change Act is the
creation of the Climate Change Commission7 which shall be an independent and
autonomous body and shall have the same status as that of a national government
agency. The Commission shall be the sole policy-making body of the government which
shall be tasked to coordinate, monitor and evaluate the programs and action plans of the
government relating to climate change pursuant to the provisions of this Act. Above all,
the Philippine Constitution, which is the highest law of the land, has recognized the State’s
duty to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in
accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.8
Despite the attempt of the State to protect and conserve our flora and fauna, there
is only so much that our environmental laws and procedures can do. But with the
collective effort of every individual to maintain the environment’s beauty and purpose, we
can accomplish beyond what we can think or imagine. Just like the saying goes,
Improvement starts with letter “I” because our own little ways can inspire and influence
others to act the way that we do and to live a life that cares not for only oneself but also
for the benefit of the nature. Henceforth, we should make our very existence more
meaningful by protecting the environment – an environment that is worth fighting for, not
just for ourselves but for the generations yet unborn.

7
Sec. 4, R.A. No. 9729
8
CONSTITUTION, ART. II, Sec. 16