(File photo courtesy of WILD Expeditions Palawan)

The Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) is pushing for municipal governments in southern Palawan that have jurisdiction over the Victoria-Anepahan Mountain Range (VAMR) to provide it “special protection” by sharing its management.

VAMR, which has a total land area of 164,789 hectares, straddles 31 barangays in Puerto Princesa City, Aborlan, Narra, and Quezon. Though studies show that it holds astounding biodiversity of unique species and widely-intact ecosystem, it still has no defined management framework and is continually threatened with conservation issues such as illegal logging and wildlife poaching, the PCSD Staff said in a press statement sent Wednesday.

“PCSD believes that inter-LGU management and agreement will effectively mobilize the protection and development needed by VAMR, founded in Article III Section 33 of the Republic Act 7160 that states LGUs may group themselves for purposes commonly beneficial to them through appropriate ordinances,” the statement said.

The proposed agreement will create an autonomous and independent body known as Victoria-Anepahan Mountain Range Management and Planning Board (VAMR-MPB), composed of the chief executives of concerned LGUs and representatives from PCSDS, DENR, NGO/CSO, Academe, and chairperson of its Technical Committee. It will be the highest policy-making and governing body for VAMR.

In order for the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for VAMR to be finalized and signed, the respective Sanggunian Bayan of the four LGUs must first draft their respective resolution authorizing their mayors to enter into the said MOA.

“The provincial and city Department of the Interior and Local Government and PCSD Staff are looking forward to facilitating the inter-LGU MOA signing this coming December 18,” it said.

The initiative for VAMR’s protection, conservation, and sustainable management started in 2015 by the VAMR Technical Working Group composed of representatives from PCSD Staff, Environmental Legal Assistance Center, Inc., IDEAS, Western Philippine University, NTFP, and DENR-PENRO.