Senator Edgardo J. Angara hailed the removal of the Rice Terraces from the List of World Heritage in Danger, and pushed for the continuity of programs to preserve the terraces.
“This is good news for us. This achievement means we are on the right track but we should be reminded that there is still a lot of work to be done before we fully restore the majestic terraces,” said Angara, author of the National Cultural Heritage Act.
According to the World Heritage Committee, the Philippines has achieved the restoration of at least 50 percent of the collapsed terraces, and the rehabilitation of major irrigation systems in the site.
The Rice Terraces was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Six years after, unfortunately, the site was officially listed as one of the world’s treasures that humanity risks losing forever.
"The Ifugao Rice Terraces is known worldwide as the 8th Wonder of the World and one of the country's prime tourist destinations. They are the living testament to the Ifugao’s mastery of watershed ecology, terrace engineering, and water distribution. We should not allow the condition of the terraces to deteriorate," Angara said.
Since then, the Philippine government has created policies and laws to preserve the terraces. Community-based land use and zoning plans were developed, and measures ensuring the site’s proper management and its protection from natural disasters had been implemented.
The Ifugao Rice Terraces is also protected under the National Cultural Heritage Act authored by Angara and Aurora Rep. Juan Edgardo "Sonny" M. Angara.
In his effort to safeguard the country's cultural heritage, Angara also filed a bill seeking the establishment of the Cordillera Terraces Authority (Senate Bill No. 2008) to formulate a 10-year Cordillera Terraces Master Plan for the preservation and restoration of the terraces.
“This bill is a first step towards an overall terraces management and preservation strategy with the end in view of establishing a permanent and effective body to coordinate and lead efforts to restore and protect the terraces of the entire Cordillera Region," the senator said.
"The terraces of the Cordilleras are truly a rare engineering achievement. We are in a race against time to save them from deterioration,” he added. (30)