Environment Secretary Ramon Paje announced yesterday that Palawan’s Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and Davao Oriental’s Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary have been included in the roster of Southeast Asia’s most valued national parks.
Paje said that ministers from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) okayed the nomination of the two Philippine parks as the 34th and 35th ASEAN heritage parks, respectively, on the roster. This decision was reached at the 15th Informal ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Environment held in October in Vientiane, Laos.
The addition of Tubbataha Reefs and Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary to the list brings the number of ASEAN heritage parks in the Philippines to a total of seven. The first five to have made the roster are Mt. Apo Natural Park, Mt. Kitanglad Range Natural Park and Mt. Malindang Range Natural Park in Mindanao; the Mts. Iglit-Baco National Park in Occidental Mindoro, and the Mount Makiling Forest Reserve in Laguna.
The environment minister noted that the Philippine government is pleased by the designation of the two nature parks; pointing out that “the designation of Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary as regional heritage parks is long overdue, both having been named earlier as UNESCO World Heritage sites.”
“This latest recognition indicates that the natural characteristics of both Tubbataha park and Mt. Hamiguitan sanctuary are so exceptional they deserve to be protected for the benefit of everyone in Southeast Asia,” Paje added.