In a move to manage and preserve the natural resources and biodiversity of Cagbalete Island, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) CALABARZON Region and the DENR-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Tayabas City held a successful meeting with the concerned stakeholders for the creation of a Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) for Presidential Proclamation 2152 (Cagbalete Island) in Mauban, Quezon on March 9, 2023.

The gathering was an inaugural meeting after undergoing a series of processes as required by Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (ENIPAS) Act of 2018 for Cagbalete Island. The PAMB will be created primarily to oversee the management and conservation of the said island.

“Ang lahat po ng tanggapan at grupo na may kinalaman sa pangangalaga ng isang protected area ay inaanyayahang sumapi sa Protected Area Management Board,” DENR CALABARZON Regional Executive Director (RED) Nilo B. Tamoria said.

Aside from the RED who will serve as the Board Chair, the PAMB will be composed of the local government, national government agencies, non-government organization or Peoples’ Organization, indigenous peoples, academic institution, and private sector, in accordance with Section 9 of the Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas (ENIPAS) law. It should reflect a balance between technical expertise, community representation, and stakeholder involvement.

In order to brief the potential members of the PAMB, Tayabas City CENR Officer Cyril A. Coliflores discussed the following key topics: 1) Result of Protected Area Suitability Assessment (PASA) for Presidential Proclamation 2152 (Cagbalete Island); 2) ENIPAS Act; and 3) Section 11-A of the ENIPAS Act pertaining to the Powers and Functions of the PAMB. It was emphasized that the main tasks of the PAMB will be to develop and implement a management plan for the protected area. The said plan will balance the conservation objectives with the needs of local communities and other stakeholders of the island.

The proposed area for the island’s legislation as protected under the ENIPAS is 4,607.90 hectares that includes its surrounding coral reefs and seagrasses. The island is located in the northwest portion of Mauban along Lamon Bay and Pacific Ocean consisting of two barangays, Cagbalete I and Cagbalete II.

Cagbalete Island is not only known for its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, but also for its forests, mangroves, and coral reefs that provide critical habitat for a variety of endangered species, one of the main reasons that is recommended for establishment as protected area under the category Protected Landscape and Seascape.

The PAMB creation is a positive step towards involving participative approach on the promotion of sustainable development in Cagbalete Island while safeguarding its unique natural resources.

As discussed during the meeting, the board will have the authority to regulate and monitor the activities within the protected area, including land use and tourism.

The first PAMB meeting was attended by Hon. Zaldy L. Gariguez (Chief of Staff of 1st District of Quezon), For. Lyndon T. Luna (from Office of the Governor of Quezon Province), Hon. Bautista Erwin Dwight C. Pastrana (Municipal Mayor of Mauban, Quezon), Hon. Maximo M. Morata (Chairperson of Barangay Cagbalete I), Hon. Christoper D. Revuelta (Chairperson of Barangay of Cagbalete II), Ms. Arlene C. Fedeliz (Representative from Department of Agriculture), Ms. Jaquelyn Merjudio (Representative from Department of Science and Technology), PMAJ Rizaldy G. Merene (Representative from Philippine National Police, and 201 Bde, 21D, PA, MSg Ronal Cataroja (Representative from Department of National Defense). Interested and potential non-ex-officio members, such as the Organization for Industrial, Spiritual and Cultural Advancement (OISCA), Mauban Community-Based Forest Management Multi Purpose Cooperative (MCBFMMPC), and Cagbalete Resorts Owner Association Inc (CRAI), also attended the meeting as observers.

The establishment of the said PAMB and its successful first meeting underscores the importance of collaborative efforts in protecting the environment and natural resources. With such continued efforts, the Cagbalete Island is assured to be managed and conserved effectively.