‘Hamiguitan won’t lose Heritage designation’
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - August 22, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The government will take measures to ensure that the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary would not lose its World Heritage Site status after the killing of a critically endangered Philippine Eagle in the forest, Malacañang said yesterday.

The female eagle Pamana was shot dead in Mt. Hamiguitan more two months after the bird was released into the wild on June 12.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte deferred to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the particular steps that would be taken to avoid the sanctuary’s delisting by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Valte also cited the P100,000 reward offered by the DENR for any information that will lead to the arrest of Pamana’s killers.

“I’m sure that everyone wants to make certain that we are not delisted and that we do not lose that designation,” Valte said over radio dzRB.

The three-year-old eagle was found dead by biologists from the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF) and forest guards at Mt. Hamiguitan in Davao Oriental last Sunday. A puncture and metal fragment on the eagle’s right breast indicated the bird had died of a bullet wound.

Dolores Valdesco, head of the Davao Oriental Provincial Natural Heritage Office, expressed concern that the killing of Pamana would affect Mt. Hamiguitan as a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site.

Mt. Hamiguitan, considered to be one of the country’s forests with rich biodiversity, was recognized last year as the sixth area in the country to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site after the Cordillera Rice Terraces, Puerto Princesa Underground River, Tubbataha Reefs, Vigan City and the baroque churches.

The critically endangered Philippine Eagle is protected under Republic Act No. 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act. Anyone found guilty of killing wildlife species can be imprisoned from six to 12 years, with a fine ranging from P100,000 to P1 million.

Illegal hunting within the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a protected area, is also punishable by a jail term of six years and a fine of up to P500,000.

While Pamana’s death was a setback to the country’s biodiversity conservation program, the DENR said the government would continue to pursue its breeding program for the raptor through the PEF.

ABIGAIL VALTE ACIRC CONSERVATION OF NATURE CORDILLERA RICE TERRACES DAVAO ORIENTAL DAVAO ORIENTAL PROVINCIAL NATURAL HERITAGE OFFICE MT. HAMIGUITAN MT. HAMIGUITAN RANGE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY PAMANA PHILIPPINE EAGLE WORLD HERITAGE SITE
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