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SU 2001-02: The NIPAS Law and the Management of Protected Areas in the Philippines: Some Observations and A Critique

The passage of the Republic Act 7586, otherwise known as NIPAS act, during the Fifth Regular Session of Congress on the 22nd of July 1991 represented a significant move toward the management of the protected areas in the country. Its Implementing Rules and Regulations were issued as DENR Administrative Order No. 25 (DAO 25) on 29 June 1992. At the heart of the NIPAS Act is the Declaration of Policy that underscores, among other things, “the critical importance of protecting and maintaining the natural biological and physical diversities of the environment, notably of areas with unique features to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and animal life.” In view of the magnitude of this task, no less than the powers of the State are invoked in order to secure for present and future generations of the Filipinos “the perpetual existence of all native plants and animals”. To this end, a comprehensive system of integrated protected areas within the classification of national park has been established, as provided for by the Constitution. This system is now known as the National Integrated Protected Areas System, NIPAS. Its grand objectives notwithstanding, the actual implementation of NIPAS law remains fraught with controversy and, in many cases, both its substance and implementation continue to be mired in conflict. This paper critically reviews the salient points of NIPAS, examines some of the inherent weaknesses in its provisions, and analyzes problem areas that impede compliance with its requirements that undermine the very intent of its establishment. In turn, this paper offers important suggestions, foremost of which is the call for a major change in attitude within the ranks of the DENR staff and other program implementers. Specifically, this change of attitude involves no less than a call for DENR personnel “to cease being known as enforcers of regulations, but to consider themselves as development workers”. Finally, in judging results, the paper underscores the need for implementers to go beyond the step-by-step compliance of requirements and to pay equally careful attention to the achievement of objectives, while highlighting the importance of a truly participative and consultative process of managing the natural resources of this country.

Silliman University
Authors Keywords
Custodio, Carlos C.; Molinyawe, Norma M.; natural resources and environment; natural resource management (NRM); NIPAS law; protected areas;
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