“Ensure the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology through the promotion of activities geared towards environmental protection, conservation and restoration.”
An introduction to environmental law, Environmental law is a complex and interlocking body of international treaties, statutes, regulations, and common law or national legislation that operates to regulate the interaction of humanity and the natural environment, toward the purpose of reducing the impacts of human activity. The topic may be divided into two major subjects’ pollution control and remediation, and resource conservation and management. Laws dealing with pollution are often media-limited, pertain only to a single environmental medium, such as air, water, soil and control both emissions of pollutants into the medium, as well as liability for exceeding permitted emissions and responsibility for cleanup. Laws regarding resource conservation and management generally focus on a single resource, natural resources such as forests, mineral deposits or animal species, or more intangible resources such as especially scenic areas or sites of high archeological value, and provide guidelines for and limitations on the conservation, disturbance and use of those resources.
Furthermore, many laws that are not exclusively “environmental” nonetheless include significant environmental components and integrate environmental policy decisions. Municipal, state and national laws regarding development, land use and infrastructure are examples. Environmental law draws from and is influenced by principles of environmentalism, including ecology, conservation, stewardship, responsibility and sustainability. Pollution control laws generally are intended to protect and preserve both the natural environment and human health. Resource conservation and management laws generally balance the benefits of preservation and economic exploitation of resources. From an economic perspective environmental laws may be understood as concerned with the prevention of present and future externalities, and preservation of common resources from individual exhaustion, the limitations and expenses that such laws may impose on commerce, and the often unquantifiable benefit of environmental protection, have generated and continue to generate significant controversy.
The Tourism Act of 2009 the State declares tourism as an indispensable element of the national economy and an industry of national interest and importance, which must be harnessed as an engine of socio-economic growth and cultural affirmation to generate investment, foreign exchange and employment, and to continue to mold an enhanced sense of national pride for all Filipinos. First is to ensure the development of Philippine tourism that is for and by the Filipino people, conserve and promote their heritage, national identity and sense of unity, Second is to recognize sustainable tourism development as integral to the national socio- economic development efforts to improve the quality of life of the Filipino people, providing the appropriate attention and support for the growth of this industry, Third is to promote a tourism industry that is ecologically sustainable, responsible, participative, culturally sensitive, economically viable, and ethically and socially equitable for local communities, Fourth is to create a favorable image of the Philippines within the international community, thereby strengthening the country’s attraction as a tourism destination and eventually paving the way for other benefits that may result from a positive global view of the country, Fifth is to develop the country as a prime tourist hub in Asia, as well as a center of world congresses and conventions, by promoting sustainable tourism anchored principal on the country’s history, culture and natural endowments, and ensuring the protection, preservation and promotion of these resources, and sixth is to encourage private sector participation and agricultural-tourism for countryside development and preservation of rural life.
B. Environmental Law related to Tourism
Mining in the Philippines
To encourage any and all communities and local authorities adversely affected by mining impacts to continue to explore and pursue all avenues available within the law at local, national and international levels to register their concerns and aspirations and seek redress for wrongs. And to continue the support to all parties in future efforts to realize a national path to sustainable development based on justice. To reflect the other viewers, of the many people they met in the Philippines and the views of the people and organizations.
CONCERNS AND CONFLICTS
Mining has a very poor record in the Philippines as a result of the massive social and environmental problems it has caused historically. Some organizations reveal the Philippines to be among the worst countries in the world with regard to tailings dam failures whereby the surface impoundments containing the toxic waste from the mining process failed with disastrous consequences for local people and the environment. In spite of this the Government of the Philippines has been pursuing an aggressive policy to revitalize the mining industry, potentially opening 30 per cent of the country’s land area to mining. It has promised that mining will be carried out to full international standards and that environmental and social problems will be addressed effectively. The government has conducted mining road shows across the globe. Incentives for foreign firms make their operations effectively tax-free for the first five years. Billions of dollars in investments have been promised and a total of 2,000 mining permit applications are pending. Mining is targeted for many upland areas where it would further reduce forest cover and leave a toxic heritage for succeeding generations. Natural hazards are common in the Philippines, with major portions of the country classified as natural disaster hotspots. Much of its mineral resources lie either in areas of rich biodiversity, in geo hazard zones or within the ancestral domain of indigenous peoples. Responsible mining, in accordance with international best practice, is simply not being observed in the country. Despite the legal frameworks and guidelines, in practice mining applications are considered for watershed areas.
Mining is also pursued in conflict zones, the combination of inadequate protection measures and natural hazards can be and has been catastrophic. The country’s record of mining accidents is evidence of this. Most infamous is the Marcopper disaster of 1996, on Marinduque Island, when a mine tailings spill of more than four million metric tons of waste caused widespread flooding and damage to farm lands and property. Villages were evacuated and an estimated 20,000 people along the Boac River were affected. The river was subsequently declared biologically dead. More recently, following spills of cyanide and tailings at Rapu-Rapu Island the government’s current mining showcase in Albay, Southern Luzon, an independent commission established by the Government found the company guilty of negligence and recommended that the mining operation be closed down. The government failed to do this and the mine remains open. Most of the Philippines’ mineral resources are located within the ancestral domain of its indigenous peoples. Witnessed at first hand the havoc mining is wreaking on the livelihoods, health and human rights of indigenous peoples and other local communities. It also has the potential for massive environmental damage to critical water catchment areas, thousands of hectares of agricultural land and the valuable marine environment. Given the rapidly growing population, which is projected to rise from 84 million to 150 million by 2036, the destruction of these vital ecosystems will have serious implications for the food security and future sustainable development of the country. Unless the water catchment areas are protected and forests are replanted on a massive scale with native species, it is estimated that at least 50 per cent of sustainable agriculture, which require irrigation, will be lost. There are many vocal advocates for the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities and protection of the environment. The development of mining under current circumstances is understandably a major and controversial issue. There have been many legitimate expressions of concern and opposition. Even in Congress strong voices are calling for amendments to the mining law. Some people in government and in corporations, however, have labeled critics of these policies as ‘anti-mining’ and leftist. In the context of the ongoing armed conflict in the Philippines between government and left-wing guerrilla forces, it is feared that such labeling is viewed by some in the military as an incitement to action. Hundreds of people labeled in this way, including many involved in peaceful and legitimate criticism of mining projects and policies, have been killed and targeted for execution. One human rights organization has recorded more than 70017 extra-judicial killings since 2001, with many human rights and environmental activists among the victims.
“For me we must consider very carefully the ways in which we can help other nations not to harm the environment. Richer nations can criticize the poorer ones for destroying their forests and ravaging their land, even though the more affluent nations contribute to that destruction. Existing international economic structures are such that nations in the third world are forced into using up their natural resources.”
My own conclusion from the visit was that I have never seen anything so systematically destructive as the mining programmed in the Philippines. The environmental effects are catastrophic as are the effects on people’s livelihoods.
Hotel and Tourism Management is affected in the current Laws in the Philippines
“Sustainable tourism development refers to the management of all resources that meets the needs of tourists and host regions while protecting the opportunities for the future, in such a way that economic, social and aesthetic needs can be fulfilled while maintaining cultural integrity, essential ecological processes, biological diversity and life support systems.”
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“Philippine laws govern the rights and obligations of stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism industry. It provides for their rights, liabilities and even benefits as prescribed by law. These are various laws governing Philippine tourism, including the various government agencies involved therein. It will also provide current situation existing in the tourism, travel and hospitality industry which may be analyzed, interpreted and resolved applying existing jurisprudence and legislation.”
The recent bus hijacking in the Philippines certainly wasn’t the finest moment for Manila’s Finest, as the Philippine capital’s police force likes to call itself. In a city run by a former police officer, a disgraced cop takes a busload of Chinese tourist’s hostage. The responding police contingent drags its feet, bungles the negotiations, flubs its first rescue attempt, and succeeds only after eight hostages have died at the hands of the hijacker, who is finally killed by a sniper shot that came far too late in the day. Days after the situation’s bloody resolution, tempers are high in Hong Kong and China, Filipinos ponder how their government has failed them, and the world is asking if any foreign traveler is safe when visiting Manila or the Philippines. It’s a fair question; Filipinos will be the first to acknowledge that their famously congested capital city is rife with crime, and local institutions are ill-equipped to handle the caseload. Despite the authorities’ concerted efforts, gangs continue to prey on naÃ¯ve travelers, using deception or force to rob their victims or worse. Individual attacks against foreigners hit the news stream from time to time – Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell was killed while hiking through Ifugao Province in 2007. Tellingly, the head of the Philippines Department of Justice blamed the victim, calling Campbell “a little irresponsible” for walking unescorted in the mountains. More recently, expats in Angeles City were targeted by a serial killer who coveted their expensive electronics; the suspect had originally been arrested once before, but was set free by the police for unknown reasons. These cases demonstrate a chilling fact tourists in the Philippines cannot expect the same support from the authorities that she might take for granted in places like Hong Kong or Singapore. Not only is the peace-and-order situation in the Philippines far more volatile than in more developed parts of Southeast Asia, the Philippine government’s response to tourist safety situations has proven to be problematic, and not even the newly-elected government looks set to solve these problems anytime soon. “It only indicates that our law enforcement agencies have few capabilities to handle situations like this,” says Banlaoi, noting the incidents “tremendous impact on the Philippines’ tourism industry and the country’s ability to attract foreign investment.”
This situation is particularly galling considering that the government is targeting tourism as a key growth area. Just as more Filipinos are staking their economic future on a growing influx of tourists, the hijacking incident is seen to dash any hopes of a resurgence of tourism in the Philippines. The Philippines’ Department of Tourism had earlier projected increased tourist arrivals of 15 percent for the year 2010, up from 8.9 million arrivals last year. The increased number still pales compared to Thailand’s fifteen million arrivals in the same time period only time will tell if the Department of Tourism will have to revise those figures downward. The DOT’s optimism seems hard to sustain in the face of systemic weakness in the Philippines’ tourism infrastructure. It’s not for lack of trying; investors poured $1.3 billion into the Philippine tourism industry between 2000 and 2009, creating 3 million tourism-related jobs in the process, or about 10% of total jobs in the Philippines. That means one in ten jobs in the Philippines will be affected by any tourism downturn caused by news of the hijacking. In the short term, visits have already been affected by the recent news. Thousands of canceled bookings have been reported from tour operators and hotels from all around the Philippines; Boracay operators may lose between P7 million to P10 million due to over 800 cancellations from wary Chinese tourists. On the other hand, other travel groups originating from China have adopted a wait-and-see attitude, quoting Asiatravel.com’s David Boh as saying: “Normally people will travel from October onwards, so it is still a month away. So what some of our guests are doing is waiting to see how the situation turns out. Some of the guests, what they do is that they purchase additional travel insurance.”Pessimists in the local tourism industry worry that the Philippines, never a popular destination at any rate, will remain the purview of courageous backpackers, an even bigger tourism backwater than Laos. Lacking consistent support from the government, tour operators and professionals in the Philippines have taken it on themselves to do damage control in the wake of the hijacking. The Philippines’ attractions notwithstanding, visitors to the country must perform a delicate calculation, weighing the fun to be had in places like El Nido against the perceived negatives. Certain factors, more than others, will likely come into play. Lack of tourist infrastructure, despite the massive investment poured into tourist destinations, much of the infrastructure that tourists take for granted in other countries still doesn’t exist in the Philippines. The Philippine tourism industry is insufficiently centralized, isolating competent travel enterprises and allowing incompetent operators to keep working without sufficient oversight.
“Strengthen the role of tourism councils and encourage the participation of non-government organizations (NGOs), people’s organizations (POs) and the private sector in initiating programs for tourism development and environmental protection.”
Tourism Management can help improved the current situations in the Philippines
Although often underestimated, the tourism industry can help promote peace and stability in developing countries by providing jobs, generating income, diversifying the economy, protecting the environment, and promoting cross-cultural awareness. Tourism is the fourth-largest industry in the global economy. However, key challenges must be addressed if peace-enhancing benefits from this industry are to be realized. These include investments in infrastructure and human capacity, the development of comprehensive national strategies, the adoption of robust regulatory frameworks, mechanisms to maximize in-country foreign currency earnings, and efforts to reduce crime and corruption. Tourism is a thriving global industry with the power to shape developing countries in both positive and negative ways. The tourism sector has remained robust despite the transnational challenges posed by terrorism, health pandemics, and the global financial crisis. It is up to developing nations to seize the economic opportunities that foreign visitors present, and some countries have proved more adept than others at doing so. Tourism can only achieve the above goals if it respects the environment and places host communities at the center of the development process. Responsibility lies with the governments of developing nations to ensure that tourism grows in a sustainable manner. While tourism can be a force for good both in alleviating poverty and helping to cement peace much depends on the way the sector is planned and managed.
Tourism, if properly planned and managed, can help to alleviate poverty and stabilize communities. For that to happen, positive action must be taken by main constituencies host communities, host governments, and foreign stakeholders. Communities should know where their comparative advantage lies whether it is in wildlife, waterfalls, or wineries and focus their development strategy around it, rather than expanding into areas that they think will attract visitors but with which they are unfamiliar. Focus on keeping themselves at the center of their development strategy. This will ensure local ownership of projects and help to keep profits in house. Community-based tourism is also more sustainable and helps to provide the type of authentic experience that most tourists are looking for. Work on enhancing capacity, in both physical infrastructure and human capital. Protect the environment and culture. Communities should remember at all times that it is the beauty of the surroundings in which they live the richness of their culture, and the diversity of their wildlife that attracts visitors in the first place. A percentage of the wealth that tourism generates should be spent to preserve these qualities. Establish national tourism strategies and put in place robust laws to protect tourist sites and people who work in the tourist industry. They should also ensure that these laws are enforced. National standards should be established for the tourism industry and its employees should receive periodic training and guidance. Address bottlenecks and constraints. In many developing countries, tourism is undermined because no single government branch has overall responsibility for it. A government should ensure that its tourism sector is not undermined by competing or overlapping departments, at either the national or local levels. Have a creative marketing strategy for the tourist industry. The global tourism trade is highly competitive. Developing countries need to think about what sets them apart from other potential destinations and focus on marketing these distinctive qualities. Having a clear focus will also make it easier to attract foreign investment and visitors.
“Ecotourism could provide a blueprint for managing this process, as it not only builds entrepreneurial skills at a local level but also links community members to the larger world in ways that create knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of other peoples.”