Bill seeks to create body to protect Sierra Madre
The Sierra Madre region contains most of the nation’s 68 Protected Areas, including national parks, watershed forest reserves, natural monuments, and marine reserves. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF hotcore.info
A proposed law calling for the creation of a body to manage and safeguard the Sierra Madre mountain range has gained traction in Congress.
The unnumbered substitute bill of House Bills 1214 and 1972, which both seek to protect the 540-kilometer range from deforestation by creating the Sierra Madre Development Authority, hurdled the House ways and means panel on Monday, subject to amendments.
The Sierra Madre region contains most of the nation’s 68 Protected Areas, including national parks, watershed forest reserves, natural monuments, and marine reserves.
It serves as Luzon’s “storm barrier,” guarding various provinces against the onslaught of typhoons that are becoming more potent owing to climate change.
Isabela Rep. Inno Dy, one of the measure’s proponents, said the SDMA will promote the development and balanced growth of Sierra Madre and its surrounding areas. Doing so should be a top priority, he stressed, as lives and livelihoods are on the line.
However, the Department of Finance said during the hearing that the creation of SDMA is inconsistent with the current thrust of the Marcos administration to streamline and rationalize its corporate sector and the bureaucracy.
Under the legislation, the body will be under the Office of the President, which will also collect regulatory fees.
House deputy minority lawmaker France Castro questioned why the proposed body should fall under the authority of the President when it could be governed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Earlier, Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles, the other proponent, expressed hope that Congress would prioritize the bill following President Marcos Jr.’s vow that addressing climate change would be one of his government’s top priorities.
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