By JULMUNIR I. JANNARAL
The Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (TIWS), a protected area in Tawi-Tawi province, is now officially under the protection and conservation of the Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy (MENRE).
This was after Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region 9 (DENR-IX) Regional Executive Director Crisanta Marlene P. Rodriguez turned over the sanctuary to the MENRE Forest Management Services Director Abdul-Jalil S. Umngan last week.
Umngan, who represented Bangsamoro Senior Minister and MENRE Minister Abdulraof A. Macacua, said the ministry is mandated to “formulate policies and guidelines, and will implement programs, activities and projects for the protection and preservation of biological diversity and the endangered flora and fauna in the Bangsamoro region.”
“Rest assured that our mission now includes the protection and conservation of the Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary, its biodiversity, flora and fauna, and the habitat that’s inseparable from the survival of the species relying on the beauty of the islands,” he added.
Presidential Proclamation No. 171 on August 26, 1999 declared Turtle Islands as a protected area and identified it as Extremely High (EH) for biodiversity conservation, and has since been safeguarded by the DENR.
“We have cherished our role in Turtle Islands Wildlife Sanctuary (TIWS), proving time and time again that although distance has always been a challenge, it was never regarded as a hindrance to our efforts in environmental protection and biodiversity conservation,” said Rodriguez.
The TIWS is the 11th major nesting area in the world. It is recognized as primary nesting for two endangered marine turtles namely the Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata). The sanctuary is composed of the group of islands of Boan, Lihiman, Langaan, Great Bakkungan, Taganak, and Baguan.
“Day of the Sea Turtle” festival
The turnover ceremony was held on the same day Tawi-Tawi was celebrating the 3rd ‘Adlaw sin Payukan’ or the Day of the Sea Turtle festival in Taganak Island.
The MENRE delegation led by Umngan joined the 12,000 locals of the Turtle Islands in the festivity.
On behalf of MENRE Minister Macacua, Tawi-Tawi Provincial ENRE Officer Jonel Moh. Monel said the ministry is “committed to continue the protection and conservation efforts for the Turtle Islands and to work towards its sustainable development.”
Adlaw sin Payukan was launched on May 23, 2017, coinciding with the World Turtle Day, to highlight the significance of marine turtles, its protection and conservation, and the celebration of their abundance in the province of Tawi-Tawi. JIIJ