MANILA— Singer Pops Fernandez and actor Derek Ramsey have been chosen as new environmental advocates in a surprising collaboration welcomed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Fernandez and Ramsey are pushing for the protection of endangered wetlands in the Philippines, particularly the Caimpugan peatlands located in the Agusan Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary (AMWS) in Agusan del Sur.
The artists were presented Friday by Cathy Yang, new corporate communications head at PLDT, in a virtual media conference with PLDT CEO Manny Pangilinan and Chaye Revilla, who heads the company’s advocacy arm Gabay Kalikasan.
Fernandez and Ramsey join Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin, who was shown stressing the importance of peatlands in mitigating climate change in his audio-visual pitch.
“Peatlands are being degraded and lost at a dramatic pace to the logging, drainage, agriculture and burning. And when they are destroyed they release a massive amount of greenhouse gases and the unique often endangered plants and animals that they housed are lost as well, “ Baldwin said.
Fernandez and Ramsey do not claim to be knowledgeable about peatlands but they are gratified that they are using their celebrity influence to promote its cause.
"It would be good to be part of this advocacy. We should all get together and try to do something about it, just to have our fellow kababayans to be more aware about this serious problem. We do have to save our home, we have to be conscious enough on how to save earth,” said the concert queen.
Ramsey, meanwhile, said that this will deepen his environmental commitment.
"I’m doing my research! Peatlands—not so many people know about it, so I felt like this is a great opportunity for me to help spread the word about it. Get people to know what exactly the importance of peatlands is and why we should be saving them."
DENR Assistant Secretary Ricardo Calderon said he was surprised by the group’s stellar support to protect peatlands.
“This is really unusual since it is not a widely known issue. We really value this rare support.”
Calderon also underscored the benefits of peatlands as a sponge that prevents flooding in communities and as a biodiversity shelter.
Peatlands, which have carbon-rich decaying plant matter accumulated through the passage of time, are known to store twice as much carbon as all the world’s forests combined. Other peatlands in the country are located in Leyte, Palawan and Negros.
Recent DENR studies also indicate that the 5,000 hectares of peatlands in Agusan del Sur could unlock tremendous economic and livelihood benefits with its estimated 22.9 million tons of carbon dioxide that it worth billions of pesos.
Revilla disclosed that Gabay Kalikasan will also mount a show with Fernandez , Ramsey and other celebrities to generate wider awareness for peatlands in the Philippines.