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HIS EXCELLENCY GERARD HO WEI HONG, AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE TO THE PHILIPPINES;

HIS EXCELLENCY JOSEPH DEL MAR YAP, AMBASSADOR OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES TO SINGAPORE;

  1. CHENG WEN-HAUR, DEPUTY CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND CHIEF LIFE SCIENCES OFFICER OF THE WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE;
  1. JOSEL F. IGNACIO, ACTING HEAD OF OFFICE, OFFICE OF ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT PF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MANILA;

MR.JAN SHERWIN WENCESLAO, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR SOUTHEAST ASIA DIVISION, OFFICE OF THE ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MANILA;

  1. EDGAR CHUA, MR. DENNIS SALVADOR, DR. JAYSON IBAÑEZ, MS. FELICIA ATIENZA, AND MR. JOHNSON ONGKING FROM THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE FOUNDATION;

FELLOW WORKERS IN GOVERNMENT, DISTINGUISHED GUESTS, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:  GOOD MORNING!

TODAY WE CELEBRATE THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PHILIPPINES-SINGAPORE FRIENDSHIP, WHEN BILATERAL RELATIONS BETWEEN OUR COUNTRIES WERE ESTABLISHED.

WE, AT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES ARE HONORED TO BE PART OF THIS CELEBRATION, AS WE START A NEW CHAPTER IN PHILIPPINE BIODIVERSITY CONSERVATION, BY REACHING BEYOND OUR BORDERS AND COOPERATING WITH ANOTHER SOVEREIGN STATE, THE REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE.

UNDER A WILDLIFE LOAN AGREEMENT, THE DENR WILL BE ENTRUSTING TO THE WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE, A PAIR OF OUR MAJESTIC PHILIPPINE EAGLES, BOTH CAPTIVE-BRED: THE 15-YEAR-OLD MALE GEOTHERMICA AND THE 17-YEAR-OLD FEMALE SAMBISIG. THEY WILL BE PLACED AT JURONG BIRD PARK.

GEOTHERMICA AND SAMBISIG WILL BE ON LOAN TO THE WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE FOR CONSERVATION BREEDING, PUBLIC EDUCATION AND OTHER CONSERVATION-RELATED PURPOSES.

THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE IS THE CROWN JEWEL OF PHILIPPINE BIODIVERSITY, AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR RICH HERITAGE. AS OUR NATIONAL BIRD, IT EMBODIES OUR ASPIRATION TO SOAR HIGH AS A NATION. ON THE GLOBAL STAGE, THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE IS THE LARGEST AMONG EXTANT EAGLES IN TERMS OF LENGTH AND WING SURFACE.

THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE IS A CRITICALLY-ENDANGERED SPECIES. AS SUCH, IT IS AN IDEAL AMBASSADOR OF PHILIPPINE BIODIVERSITY, PERFECT FOR THE PURPOSE OF GENERATING AWARENESS ON THE URGENT NEED FOR CONSERVATION, AND FOR STIMULATING INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR AN IN SITU CONSERVATION PROGRAM.

SENDING THIS PAIR OF PHILIPPINE EAGLES TO SINGAPORE ALSO ACTS AS A BIOSECURITY MEASURE, TO ENSURE THE SURVIVAL OF THE SPECIES, AS A FALLBACK POPULATION, IN THE EVENT OF CATASTROPHIC EVENTS LIKE DISEASE OUTBREAKS OR EXTREME NATURAL CALAMITIES TAKING PLACE IN THEIR PHILIPPINE HABITATS.

THIS IS WHY WE PROMULGATED IN MAY 2018 DENR DEPARTMENT MEMORANDUM CIRCULAR 2018-04, WHICH LAYS DOWN THE PROTOCOL THAT ALLOWS THE KEEPING OF CAPTIVE POPULATIONS OF THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE IN QUALIFIED INSTITUTIONS LIKE THE JURONG BIRD PARK, WHICH IS THE LARGEST BIRD PARK IN ASIA DEVOTED TO CARING FOR BIRDS IN NATURALISTIC SETTINGS FOR CONSERVATION, RESEARCH AND PUBLIC EDUCATION.

IN THIS WILDLIFE LOAN AGREEMENT, WE ACKNOWLEDGE THE KEY ROLE OF THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE FOUNDATION, WHICH IS THE DENR’S PRIMARY PARTNER IN THE CONSERVATION OF THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE. FROM 1992 TO 2016, THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE FOUNDATION HAS PRODUCED 28 CAPTIVE-BRED EAGLES AT THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE CENTER IN DAVAO CITY, INCLUDING GEOTHERMICA AND SAMBISIG.

FOR THE DURATION OF THE WILDLIFE LOAN AGREEMENT, WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE WILL SUPPORT THE IN SITU CONSERVATION OF THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE IN THE PHILIPPINES. SHOULD GEOTHERMICA AND SAMBISIG SUCCESSFULLY BREED IN SINGAPORE, THEIR PROGENY SHALL REMAIN THE PROPERTY OF THE PHILIPPINE GOVERNMENT. THESE ARE AMONG THE SALIENT PROVISIONS OF OUR AGREEMENT.

INDEED, WE ARE HONORED AND PRIVILEGED TO PARTNER WITH WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE AND THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE FOUNDATION IN THIS CONSERVATION INITIATIVE.

TODAY’S EVENT UNDERSCORES THE IMPORTANCE AND URGENCY OF PROVIDING SAFE HAVENS – WHETHER HERE OR ABROAD – TO THE BIODIVERSITY THAT IS PART OF FILIPINO IDENTITY, AS EXEMPLIFIED BY THE PHILIPPINE EAGLE. INCIDENTALLY, TWO DAYS FROM NOW WE WILL ALSO BE CELEBRATING THE INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY. IT IS TIMELY TO QUOTE THE LATE EMINENT NATURALIST ROGER TORY PETERSON, WHO ONCE OBSERVED: “BIRDS ARE INDICATORS OF THE ENVIRONMENT. IF THEY ARE IN TROUBLE, WE KNOW WE’LL SOON BE IN TROUBLE.”

ON THIS NOTE, CONGRATULATIONS TO EVERYONE FOR THE WILDLIFE LOAN AGREEMENT THAT WE SHALL BE SIGNING SHORTLY. WE ARE CONFIDENT THAT THIS WILL FURTHER STRENGTHEN PHILIPPINE-SINGAPORE RELATIONS IN THE CONSERVATION OF OUR BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE.

THANK YOU AND CHEERS TO A FRUITFUL PARTNERSHIP IN CONSERVING AND PROTECTING OUR SHARED BIODIVERSITY!