On 19 August 2015, the world was greeted with the shocking news of the death of Pamana, a Philippine Eagle, Pithecophaga jefferyi, released in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, in Davao Oriental, Mindanao, Philippines. Pamana’s murder sparked outrage worldwide.
Ironically, Pamana, after surviving gunshot wounds in 2012 and being rehabilitated to good health by the Philippine Eagle Foundation, was released on 12 June 2015 in Mt. Hamiguitan as part of Philippine Independence Day Celebrations, with Pamana’s release a symbol of the country’s right to fly free again. Pamana’s freedom was short-lived, once again cut short by gunshot wounds.
Pamana is the Filipino word for Heritage. Pamana’s death diminishes us all. As a species found only in the Philippines, Pamana is not only a national treasure of the Philippines, but it is part of the world’s living heritage as well. Thus, if the Philippine Eagle goes extinct, it is not only the Filipino people’s loss but humanity’s loss as well; if it goes extinct, the world will never see a Philippine Eagle fly majestically ever again. Ensuring that Philippine Eagles do not go extinct is a global responsibility.
Pamana’s death is laden with ironies: surviving gunshot wounds and being shot again to death inside a declared Wildlife Sanctuary and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where we supposed it would live the rest of its natural life in safety and security. We were wrong. Philippine Eagles need more than a physically secure place to live in. Given their precarious state, they need human understanding that they are better off left alone. We should commit to providing conditions that would ensure that they are left alone and unmolested.
ICOMOS Philippines stands in solidarity with the Philippine Eagle Foundation, the Biodiversity Management Bureau of DENR, or the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Filipino people in our fight to ensure the survival of the Philippine Eagle for all humanity’s benefit. We also realize that UNESCO World Heritage Sites, like the Mt. Hamiguitan Range Wildlife Sanctuary, are much more than physical monuments for humanity to enjoy, but are a living heritage that should provide sanctuary to all life found therein. We commit to take positive action that would help ensure that the shooting of Pamana would be the last, and for Philippine Eagles to fly free.