A ranking leader at the House of Representatives has welcomed the signing of Republic Act 9847, declaring Mt. Banahaw and Mt. San Cristobal in Quezon Province as protected areas, saying it will institutionalize and ensure the protection of both mountains.
Quezon Rep. Proceso J. Alcala, author of the proposed measure, said RA 9847, which was signed into law on Dec. 11 by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, could be replicated in the various regions and provinces of the country.
The new law features a sustainable conservation and management system for the rich biodiversity found in Mts. Banahaw and San Cristobal, their eco-tourism potentials, and the rich cultural and religious heritage found in their periphery, he said.
"This is another triumph for our environment. I encourage fellow policymakers and environmentalists alike to join hands in saving our environment, especially our rain forests. This is just one of the many ways we can contribute to worldwide efforts to save our planet," he said.
Alcala also thanked but humbly declined the proposal that he be appointed head of the body that will supervise the two mountains.
"To the President, and my colleagues in the House and the Senate, my part as lawmaker has been played. And as one of its proponents, I think, if offered, it’s improper to accept such position. But, as a citizen, it is my duty to help in any which way I can," the Quezon congressman said.
"I feel honored, but being the author of Banahaw bill I think disqualifies me for such a job as it would appear self-serving," he said.
Hobart Dator Jr., president of the 'Save Quezon Province Movement,' has recommended to the President to appoint Alcala as head of the body following the latter’s announcement that he would return to private life.
Alcala said the law granted to the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) the management of the area.
"The challenge is now passed not only onto the PAMB, but more so onto the shoulders of the stakeholders who stand to benefit from the bounty of a well-safeguarded ecological treasure," he said.
Mts. Banahaw and San Cristobal serve as home to a rich variety of flora and fauna, as a water source of the different communities surrounding it, and as a shield against storms constantly hitting the province yearly. (PNA)