by Azer Parrocha
MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a law declaring the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park (BWNP) located in Barangay Tortugas, City of Balanga, Bataan as a community-based eco-tourism zone.
A copy of Republic Act 11365 or “Balanga Wetland and Nature Park Responsible Ecotourism Act” which Duterte signed on August 8 was released to media on Wednesday (August 14).
“The State is mandated to promote a tourism industry that is ecologically sustainable, responsible, participative, culturally sensitive, economically viable and equitable for the local community. Towards this end, the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park (BWNP) is hereby declared a special eco-tourism zone,” the law read.
The law mandates the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Tourism (DOT), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to include BWNP in the priority development.
A multisectoral Balanga Wetland and Nature Park Development Council shall be established to be chaired by the mayor of Balanga City.
Under the law, the DENR and the DOT, in coordination with the DPWH, TIEZA, shall jointly assist the Balanga Wetland and Nature Park Development Council in the formulation of the ecotourism development and management plan for the BWNP that shall be complemented by a set of guidelines for responsible, community-based eco-tourism.
The plan must include a carrying capacity of the eco-park and its migratory birds; a specific site assessment; identification of strategic priorities; product development for local income generations; capacity-building for the local community; support for the formulation of local production groups and networks; marketing strategies that reflect the natural, social, and environmental integrity of the BWNP, among others. (PNA)