Photo from Cong. Edward Hagedorn

The Department of National Defense backs 3rd District Palawan Rep. Edward Hagedorn’s bill to designate a portion of the West Philippine Sea (WPS) as a marine protected area.

Hagedorn stated Friday that the defense department had signified its support in “polishing” the bill.

“We appreciate the fruitful outcome of our meeting with the Department of National Defense and the successful voicing of our petition to have the marine environment surrounding Kalayaan Island Group, and Scarborough Shoal be declared a protected area,” he said.

“The DND presented to sit in as part of the Technical Working Group (TWG) to help us polish the bill. We extend our thanks to DND Secretary and Presidential Adviser on Peace, Reconciliation, and Unity Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. for offering us this valuable support,” he added.

Hagedorn further stated that WPS champion and former Supreme Court judge Antonio Carpio is in favor of the legislation’s passage.

House Bill 6373 aims to designate all the areas within three nautical miles from the baselines surrounding the Kalayaan Islands Group (KIG) and Scarborough Shoal a marine protected area.

Once the bill is passed, the use of any fishing, or harvesting gear, or any of their variations; dumping of toxic chemicals, non-biodegradable materials and the likes; depositing refuse; possessing or using blasting materials; introduction of non-endemic species; and construction or maintaining any kind of structure provided they are for biosphere development, shall not be allowed in the Kalayaan Islands Group and Scarborough Shoal Marine Protected Area (KIGSS MPA).

A Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) and a Protected Areas Management Office (PAMO) with the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) as a member to manage the area.