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PIA Press Release

Coastal town braces for greater role in environmental management through Al Khalifa

Pagadian City (February 9) -- With the introduction of an Islamic environmental sourcebook, environmental management initiatives under the leadership of Abubakar Afdal, Al Haj in Labangan municipality spurred heightened interest among local leaders and residents of post-conflict Bulanit village and its neighboring communities.

On January 16, as part of the launching of the local government unit's (LGU) first aquasilvi culture project on mud crab in Barangay Bulanit, Mayor Afdal, chieftains of the town's five Muslim coastal communities and religious leaders formally received from the Philippine Environmental Governance (EcoGov2) Project the sourcebook Al Khalifa (The Steward). Released in 2007, it was developed by the USAID-funded EcoGov2 in consultation with Islamic scholars and the Assembly of the Darul Ifta of the Philippines.

Culling injunctions from the Holy Quran, Al Khalifa advocates management of natural resources as moral and legal obligations of Muslims. From this perspective, it urges all Muslims to take proactive roles as stewards of the earth.

After hearing about the sourcebook, Lumna Tabina, president of Bulanit Seaweeds Farmers Association (BSFA), professed, "We Muslims are divided into several tribes, but all are one in Islam." Today, as main overseer of the aquasilvi culture project through the BSFA, Lumna is more convinced than ever that his greater accountability to God is nurturing his coastal resources and enabling more livelihood opportunities for the fisherfolk. Anticipating the profit of the first mud crab harvest in a few months, he looks forward to expanding the project to a nearby reforested mangrove area.

In nearby Bulanit Elementary School, Department of Education teachers also showed support in espousing environmental awareness among their schoolchildren. Prior to the aquasilvi culture launching, the Municipal Planning and Development Office of Labangan and EcoGov2 jointly held a poster-making contest which involved its pupils. The pupils were exposed to the mangrove and aquasilvi culture areas after which they came up with artistic depictions of their role as caretakers of the environment.

EcoGov2 and the LGU of Labangan have a long-standing technical assistance agreement that has resulted to the crafting of a coastal resources management (CRM) plan. Situated in a key biodiversity area with a rare sea turtle sanctuary, Labangan sits as one of the eight component municipalities of Illana Bay Regional Alliance in Region 9 (IBRA-9). The aquasilvi culture project on mud crab was awarded by the National Economic and Development Authority in 2008 to the LGU after IBRA-9's report on Labangan's sustained coastal resources management efforts.

With Al Khalifa providing strong moral guidance, Mayor Afdal has found more reasons to look closer into Labangan's environmental threats. "Now I understand better that it is one of my duties as a Muslim to take care of the environment," he says. (PR EcoGov2) [top]

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