OUTSTANDING PROGRAMS: Bantay Puerto
|Bantay Puerto |
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan
|1994 - Outstanding |
Marine Resources Conservation and Management
Puerto Princesa City in the province of Palawan is home to rich land and marine resources, which have been spared from the ravages of calamities. However, these resources continue to be in danger of denudation caused by rampant illegal activities in the city. Moreover, existing government laws and regulations to protect the natural resources of Puerto Princesa have not been successfully implemented due to the absence of coordination and indifference of the people and agencies involved.
In its desire to rid of these problems, the local government created the Bantay Puerto Program. The goal of this program is to effectively and honestly implement the existing laws and regulations to protect, conserve, and rehabilitate the natural resources of the city. It is basically divided into two-parts, namely: Bantay Gubat, which addresses the problems of illegal logging and destructive farming practices, and Bantay Dagat, which is concerned with the protection of the sea from illegal fishing activities.
To successfully execute these programs, the city Mayor began by creating a multi and intra agency body. The following are the specific agencies and their functions: (1) Special Monitoring Group - concerned with data gathering of all relevant information on illegal activities undertaken within city jurisdiction; (2) Civilian Task Force - the action team involved in actual law enforcement assisting the local police and the military; (3) Cyanide Detection Test Group - involved with the detection of cyanide and other chemicals used in fishing along city jurisdiction.
Additionally, the city Mayor placed these agencies under his direct supervision to address coordination and non-cooperation problems. Clearly, civilian and military’s smooth coordination was manifested in the use of air force helicopters in the pursuit / apprehension of illegal fishermen and loggers.
The creation of the Bantay Puerto Program has since brought about tangible and intangible benefits to the city. The number of illegal fishing and logging activities has decreased tremendously and with this comes the preservation of the city’s marine products and endangered bird species. More importantly, the strong political will exemplified by the local government allowed them to gain the respect and support of their constituents. Consequently, save for some fortuitous events and calamities, peace and order has dominated the city of Puerto Princesa.