THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will recommend three protected areas in Western Visayas to be included in the priority list of President Benigno Aquino III.

Aquino will submit the priority list to Congress for legislative action.

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

DENR Regional Executive Director for Western Visayas Julian Amador said he is seeking the expansion of legislative action on protected areas in order to protect these areas and make the forest sustaining.

Amador said that 2010 was declared as the International Year for Biodiversity and 17 forest protected areas in the country shall be certified by the President as priority bills in Congress.

This will include the Sagay Marine Sanctuary in Sagay City Negros Occidental, Taklong Island National Marine Reserve in the island province of Guimaras, and the Panay Mountain range bordering Aklan, Antique, and Capiz that were already proclaimed several years ago but not yet enacted into a law.

The National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act provides that protected areas shall only be established through presidential proclamations and thereafter be enacted into law.

Presently, there are 109 protected areas covering 3.46 million hectares where only 12 protected areas have been enacted into law and one of them is the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park in the province of Negros Occidental. (Lydia C. Pendon)