The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), local government units (LGUs), and stakeholders signified collaborative partnerships in conserving and protecting Mt. Apo and its wildlife by signing a commitment of support for the establishment of Mt. Apo Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center on Wednesday at the Garden Oasis Convention Center.
This developed as the groups observe that wildlife is now facing grave threats due to unfettered human activity with the endangered species as the most vulnerable to these man-made ecological imbalances.
The Philippine warty pig is one of four endemic “baboy ramo” species found in the Philippines.
The center will serve as an animal rescue, conservation and breeding, education and research, and ecotourism. It will be government-owned or privately managed, which is similar to the Philippine Eagle Foundation or could be an LGU and private institution alliance (shared responsibility).
In terms of funding, director Joey Recimilla of MinDa said they will be working on proposed funding through congressional legislation, DENR regular funding, private sponsorship or through LGU support.
He said a technical working group will still determine the budget needed for the establishment of the said rescue center.
The Mt. Apo Natural Park (MANP), with a total land area of about 64,000 hectares, is located in south-central Mindanao spanning the provinces of North Cotabato in Region 12, and Davao Sur and Davao City in Region 11 and is within two regions, three cities, and four LGUs namely Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur, Kidapawan City, and Magpet City.
With an altitude of 2,954 meters above sea level, it is the highest mountain and one of the most popular nature-based tourism sites in the country. MANP was declared a Protected Area and a component of the National Protected Areas System under Republic Act No. 9237 in 2003.
DENR’s partner agencies in Mt. Apo such as the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and Aboitiz–led Hedcor also signified their support for the establishment of the said rescue center.
This is a result of a multi-sectoral coordination meeting and orientation at the proposed Mt. Apo Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.
“Here at the foot of Mt. Apo, all the municipalities were united to preserve the wildlife. This is also part of our community and these are animals that we need to preserve to multiply in the next generation and for the future of Mt. Apo.,” said Mayor Jay Laurence Gonzaga of Magpet, Cotabato Province.
Michelle Louise Gutierrez, OIC-Mayor of Sta. Cruz, said the municipality has continued to persistently manage environmental protection measures through partnerships with the private sector and government agencies as well.
“The eco-cultural is one of the best assets of our municipality. From highlands to islands ika nga. While we thrive in these pursuits, Sta. Cruz has continued to manage environmental protection measures through the partnership with the private sector. Mt. Apo in fact has been a haven of the economy for our residents and the municipality of Sta. Cruz but more than anything else, Mt. Apo is a haven of wildlife, a haven of flora and fauna which has been in existnece long before us. Existence why I believe what better way to preserve this is to enjoin the LGUs, private sector, as well as the national agencies in the exertion of collaborative efforts for the sustenance of the Mt. Apo Wildlife,” she said.