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Protecting wildlife

National Habitats

A SNOWBALLING move in Congress to protect and conserve the country’s wildlife, notably those facing extinction, should be welcomed by all sectors of Philippine society.

This after environmentalists, including ordinary citizens, have raised the alarm signal that impoverished Philippines may soon find itself on the edge of ecological disaster.

No less than Senator Cynthia A. Villar noted that destruction of national habitats has been linked to the spread of dreaded infectious diseases, such as Ebola and HIV.

Villar said that two-thirds of these deadly diseases originate from animals, with about 70 percent coming from wild animals, or what is referred to as zoonotic diseases.

There are also studies suggesting that the COVID-19 virus may have originated from bats, according to Villar, who chairs the Senate committee on environment and natural resources.

Earlier, the Wildlife Conservation Society said that habitat loss forces wild animals to move to areas populated by people, who become exposed to the pathogens of animals that in turn spread viruses.

Thus, Villar is on the right track in filing Senate Bill (SB) 2078, which seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 9147, otherwise known as the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001.

She said the 20-year-old legislation needs to be amended, noting that violations remain rampant and many violations are even undetected. “Let’s give more teeth to the law,” she added.

Like other well-meaning Filipinos, we share the view of the lady lawmaker that wildlife protection is crucial since the Philippines is one of the world’s biodiversity-rich countries.

Villar filed SB 2078, or An act strengthening the wildlife conservation mechanisms in the Philippines, on March 3, when the country marked World Wildlife Day.