ADRi Event: “Protecting the Seas: Preserving Biodiversity Through Marine Protection in the West Philippine Sea”

The West Philippine Sea hosts security risks, including gray zone operations, environmental degradation, energy crises, and food crises, among others. While diplomatic and military initiatives are employed to assert the country’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, concerns regarding the state of the area’s biodiversity and environmental resources persist.

Efforts in the West Philippine Sea have been expanding to include initiatives on marine protection as well as on responsible and sustainable tourism that contribute to protecting its biodiversity. This includes legislative and regulatory measures to declare the territory as a marine protected area to regulate activities harmful to the marine environment. Such an approach to the West Philippine Sea emphasizes the vital role of scientists, environmentalists, and local government units in securing Philippine territory while enriching its natural resources.

In this context, the administration of President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos. Jr. needs to implement initiatives aimed at protecting and preserving the rich biodiversity and environmental value of the West Philippine Sea. Strategic and responsive policies must be formulated to sustainably conserve and protect the area’s remaining biodiversity and natural resources in the area while enabling a stronger maritime and defense posture to effectively manage security concerns in the disputed waters.

In light of this, the Stratbase ADR Institute organized a hybrid town hall discussion entitled, “Protecting the Seas: Preserving Biodiversity Through Marine Protection in the West Philippine Sea”. This event gathered key experts on maritime security and the environment who will discuss policy initiatives and studies to conserve the environmental diversity of the West Philippine Sea and the current initiatives to declare the territory as a protected area.


Opening Remarks
Dr. Moya Collett
Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy in the Philippines

Declaring the West Philippine Sea as a Marine Protected Area
Dr. Ma. Carmen Ablan-Lagman
Full Professor, Department of Biology, De La Salle University – Manila

Biodiversity Conservation and Preservation Efforts in Philippine Waters
Dr. Deo Florence Onda
Associate Professor and Deputy Director for Research,
University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute

Securing the Livelihood of Fishing Communities
Hon. Drusila Esther Bayate
Undersecretary for Fisheries, Department of Agriculture

The Great Kalayaan Expedition : Exploring Tourism Opportunities in the West Philippine Sea
Mr. Khenjap Hupanda
Program Manager, Kalayaan Tourism Development Project,
Municipal Government of Kalayaan, Palawan

Implications of Environmental Initiatives on Maritime Foreign Policy
Hon. Maria Angela Ponce
Assistant Secretary, Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office,
Department of Foreign Affairs

As represented by:
Hon. Maria Elena Cristina Maningat
Deputy Assistant Secretary, Maritime and Ocean Affairs Office,
Department of Foreign Affairs

Civil Maritime Cooperation in National Security
Hon. Jonathan Malaya
Assistant Director-General, National Security Council

Closing Remarks
Prof. Victor Andres “Dindo” Manhit
President and CEO, Stratbase ADR Institute

Host & Moderator:
Atty. Karen Jimeno
Host, “The Way Forward”, CNN Philippines;
Director and Chief Legal Counsel, SofCap Partners

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