Masbate’s Tugbo Natural Biotic Area, home to wild birds, now a protected area


MANILA, Philippines — The Tugbo Natural Biotic Area (TNBA) in the Masbate province is now a protected area, according to Republic Act 11806 which lapsed into law early last month.

A protected area holds physical and biological significance, and is protected by the government against destructive human exploitation. According to the explanatory note of the Senate version of the bill for the protected area, the Tugbo Watershed Forest Resevre is the primary water source for Masbate and for the town of Mobo.

It is also home to several species of wild birds, inlcuding the Philippine Hawk Owl, Philippine Bulbul, White-browed Shama, Blue headed fantail, White-vented Whistler and Orange-bellied Flowerpecker.

Sen. Cynthia Villar, who filed the measure in Senate in 2020, said Wednesday that it was passed into law on June 2. It was only on June 28, however, when it was uploaded on The Official Gazette, the official government journal.

“In recognition of the richness of the biological resources, both flora and fauna, that are native and distinct to the Tugbo Watershed Forest Reserve, as well as their aesthetic and ecological importance, a parcel of land located in the City of Masbate and the Municipality of Mobo, in the Province of Masbate is hereby declared a protected area with the category of natural biotic area,” the RA 11806 read.

“As such, the State shall ensure the conservation, protection, management and rehabilitation of the area,” it added.

With the law in place, TNBA will be managed within the National Integrated Protected Area System and must be assigned with funds consistent with its protection, according to Villar who served as the chairperson of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Climate Change in the 18th Congress .

Villar and Rep. Elisa “Olga” Kho (Masbate, 2nd district) authored and pushed for declaration of the TNBA as a protected area.

TNBA’s inclusion in the list brings up the number of legislated protected areas in the country to 113, the senator said.

Under the law, areas surrounding the TNBA may be considered as buffer zones by the government in a bid to give an extra layer of protection.

The RA lapsed into law after former President Rodrigo Duterte did not affix his signature on it.

In a statement on Wednesday, Villar pointed out that there are still several sites across the country which have yet to be given a protective status.

The country is home to two-thirds of the world’s animal and plant species, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Philippines is known as a biodiversity hotspot or an area with large numbers of endemic species which are threatened by the loss of habitats and other man-made activities.

As of 2019, almost 100 species of animals and plants were included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, considered as the world’s most comprehensive database on the global extinction risk status of organisms. — Angelica Y. Yang

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