ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTORS. Members of the Palaui Environmental Protectors Association (PEPA) interact with DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn C. Bambalan during her visit at Palaui Island in Sta. Ana, Cagayan.
"Isa ang Palaui Island sa napuntahan ko na maganda ang forest cover. Malaking tulong ang Palaui sa total conservation effort ng Region 2," Director Bambalan said as she acknowledged the support of the association and the local communities in protecting the Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape (PIPLS). "People's Organizations (PO) like you are our strength," she added.
Last year, the 8,048-hectare protected area was awarded 1st runner-up in the Outstanding NIPAS-MPA (National Integrated Protected Areas System-Marine Protected Area) in Para El MAR: MPA Awards and Recognition.
In the dialogue, the DENR regional chief asked the PEPA members how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their livelihood considering that ecotourism is their source of income. She said she will lobby for support that would create emergency employment.
Director Bambalan also advised the PO not to resist development projects of other government entities in the area as these will also boost ecotourism. "We just ensure compliance with the laws and regulations on protected area management, forestry and other environmental laws," she explained.
PEPA is a partner of the DENR in forest protection, coastal and marine ecosystems management, and ecotourism development. With 320 members, the PO was established in 1993 under th Coastal Environment Program of the DENR.
"Malaki ang tulong ng DENR sa amin dahil binuhay ng DENR ang association namin. Bilang tugon sa mga tulong ng DENR, kami ay katulong sa pagprotekta ng Palaui Island Protected Landscape and Seascape," PEPA president Jerry Iranga said.
The association is a beneficiary of the Coastal and Marine Ecosystems Management Program of the DENR. In 2013, PEPA was also a recipient of the Integrated Coastal Resources Management Program. Through these programs, the members were capacitated on different skills which have provided them sustainable livelihood without compromising the protection and conservation of the natural resources of Palaui Island.
The DENR and other institutions have provided them trainings in tour guiding, weaving, reef guiding and honey production among others. The 25 tour guides and 35 reef guides were deputized by the DENR as wildlife enforcement officers and reef rangers, respectively.
PEPA is a member of the Protected Area Management Board, the governing and decision making body of the PIPLS.#