Mantalingahan range nominated for World Heritage Site status

(Photo courtesy of Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape)

The Mt. Mantalingahan Protected Landscape (MMPL) in southern Palawan has been nominated as another World Heritage Site, a protected area status conferred by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Environment officials said the MMPL is the country’s lone nominee to the 2020 World Heritage Site list, as Mayon Volcano failed to meet the deadline for the submission of documentary requirements.

The MMPL is a protected area located in the southern part of Palawan covering an area of 120,457 hectares. It is a mountain range along the central spine of mountains in southern Palawan. The peak reaches about 2,086 meters above sea level and considered as the highest in the province. It is within the territorial jurisdiction of five municipalities including Brooke’s Point, Española, Bataraza, Quezon, and Rizal.

Felizardo Cayatoc, provincial environment and natural resources officer (PENRO) of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) told Palawan News they are confident that MMPL will be declared a World Heritage Site, a status similar to the Puerto Princesa Underground River and Tubbataha Reefs National Marine Park.

“For the Philippines, this is our lone entry and it so happened na dito sa Palawan. Kung ma-deklara na tayo sa 2020, ito na ang magiging pangatlong kabilang sa UNESCO World Heritage Sites dito sa Palawan,” Cayatoc said.

He said that as early as 2015, MMPL was already included in the initial list of 19 nominees for UNESCO because of its exceptional biodiversity and it will be up for discussion at the 44th World Heritage Committee meeting in 2020.

Related documents for the nominations were already submitted to the UNESCO National Commission of the Philippines on September 27, 2017. It was already transmitted to UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France subject for further review since January 2018.

Mildred Suza, protected area superintendent (PASU) of MMPL said that the protected area was nominated to UNESCO for its endemism and exceptional biodiversity. She explained that there are 11 forest formations within the protected landscapes which is rarely seen in any other parts of the country.

She further said that the inscription of MMPL as included in the UNESCO’s list will result to the influx of tourist to the site that will significantly contribute to the socio-economic conditions of the local communities.

“Ang UNESCO ay brand ito. Kung ito na ay ma-declare bilang isa sa mga World Heritage Sites ng UNESCO ay dadagsa ang maraming turista at ito ay may kaakibat na ma-contribute sa livelihood ng ating mga kababayan,” she said.

UNESCO is now reviewing the nomination, with comments transmitted to their office for their action, Suza explained.

“Sa ngayon ay merong three comments na lang na kailangang e-comply tayo dun sa UNESCO, at sa maps naman ay may kaunting technical na lang na aayusin,” she further explained.

She said that in choosing for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, there are permanent delegates from different countries who will vote from among the nominees.

Suza said that the MMPL’s nomination was endorsed by barangays within the protected area, five municipalities, Senator Loren Legarda, three congressmen from Palawan, Provincial Government of Palawan, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD), Conservation International and indigenous people’s (IP) group in the province.

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