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Atienza: Organize activities to better appreciate our natural
heritage

Atienza: Organize activities to better appreciate our natural heritage
Publishing date: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2008 (3:26 PM)

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza today encouraged educators and civic leaders to take the lead in undertaking bird watching and other similar activities to enable the present and succeeding generations of Filipinos to better appreciate our natural heritage.

"We must inculcate to every Filipino an appreciation of the environment and nature because each of us must be involved in and
responsible for safeguarding our natural blessings," Atienza said.

Atienza made the statement during a visit of schoolchildren from Candaba town at the DENR office. The schoolchildren, led by their town mayor Jerry Pelayo, made a public appeal not to shoot, or harm in any manner, both endemic and migratory birds.

The townspeople of Candaba have been visited annually, for ages, this time of the year by tens of thousands of birds of different
species which fly to the country at the onset of winter in Asia and North America to escape the bitter cold months in their natural habitat, like Siberia.

In their meeting, Atienza and Pelayo agreed to improve and introduce facilities, such as strategically-located viewing decks in areas where the birds converge to ensure that visitors and tourists will have an educational, comfortable and fruitful visit.

Atienza reiterated his warning that killing, collecting or inflicting injury to wildlife, including bird species is unlawful, with violators facing imprisonment and payment of fines.

The warning came after reports that some groups and individuals are actively engaged in hunting down birds -- some of which have been classified as vulnerable or threatened -- as a hobby or as a commercial venture.

Pelayo said the attitude of bird hunters is in sharp contrast to many of his Pampanga provincemates who are now even protective of the birds. "Vendors who selling snipes (a migratory bird) which used to proliferate along the Olongapo-Gapan road are now a rare sight," Pelayo said.

The town executive added that Kapampangan specialty restaurants known for their exotic menu have stopped offering delicacies such as adobong snipes and wild duck and other Philippine wildlife.

Referring to Pelayo as a warrior for wildlife conservation, Atienza said the Candaba town mayor's commitment to preserve the country's natural heritage should be exulted by the country's local executives.

"We must all work for the protection of our natural wealth," Atienza said as he announced that the hunters whose pictures were posted on the web carrying lifeless Philippine ducks will be called to "answer questions about their activities." Atienza earlier directed the DENR legal division to study the filing of charges against the bird hunters.

The penalty for killing or destroying vulnerable wildlife species is imprisonment of two years and one day to four years and/or a fine of P30,000 to P300,000.