COCKATOOS UNDER THREAT; HOMONHON ISLAND RESIDENTS, SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT NETWORK PUSH FOR PROTECTION ON WORLD WILDLIFE DAY CELEBRATION
As the world celebrates World Wildlife Day with the theme “Big Cats: Predators Under Threat”, residents of Homonhon and its partner social development network, the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI) are calling the attention of concerned government agencies to prevent the extinction of the Philippine Cockatoo found in Homhonhon island.
Locally known as ‘Abukay’, the sightings of the bird in the island was made possible through PMPI’s commissioned Watershed Assessment conducted last April to July 2017 by the Visayas State University (VSU) in the islands of Homonhon and Manicani in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the DENR DAO 2004-15 identify cockatoos as critically endangered species. Critically endangered is the highest risk category that can be assigned to species in the IUCN Red List. These include wild species whose populations are believed to have decreased by 80% within three generations and are near extinction. Philippine Mallard and several other endangered species were also found in both the islands of Homonhon and Manicani.
“We love our Abukays. We want our children and our grandchildren for many generations to see the bird hovering around our community,” residents of Homonhon island joyfully exclaimed during the presentation of the result of the watershed assessment in three barangays.
Residents of three barangays, also started gathering signatures for a petition to declare their barangays as critical habitat, for submission to their barangay and municipal councils, as well as to the Bureau Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Meanwhile, PMPI has initiated a dialogue with the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) in Manila which promised to send experts to the community to validate the sightings. The same watershed assessment was submitted to DENR National Office.
In a statement, PMPI strongly calls for urgent attention from DENR specifically the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) to put into action its promise to investigate the situation of Cockatoos and other endangered species in Homonhon Island. This, before the remaining forest covers of the island are totally destroyed because of mining. The island hosts three (3) mining projects and another two (2) mining projects on exploration permits. We ask DENR to take immediate actions to protect Homonhon biodiversity and to declare the island of Homonhon as a critical habitat.
Likewise, PMPI calls for the local government units in Guiuan including the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Eastern Samar to heed the desire of their constituents to safeguard these endangered species by passing local ordinances to protect the biodiversity of the islands instead of endorsing applications for mining permits.
“This year’s World Wildlife Day celebration can only be meaningful when protection of a community’s biodiversity is upheld. I am a Guianon. We need to give the next generations of Guiuananons especially those in Homonhon and Manicani the chance to enjoy a robust and vibrant island home that boasts not only its pristine waters but its rich biodiversity,” reiterated Fr Odick Calumpiano, PMPI Co-Convenor for Visayas and Director of the Diocese of Borongan Social Action Center.
In the same statement, PMPI also calls for the protection of Mt. Hamiguitan, the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Mindanao and host to a lot of critically endangered species as well as the Pujada Bay, a protected seascape and landscape in Mati, Davao Oriental. A mining project operates between these two protected areas that threatens the biodiversity of both.