Memorandum of Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of Malaysia on the Establishment of the Turtle Island Heritage Protected Area (1996)


The Memorandum of Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of Malaysia on the Establishment of the Turtle Island Heritage Protected Area, or “TIHPA” Agreement, was produced as a follow-up to recommendations from the First ASEAN Symposium-Workshop on Marine Turtle Conservation, held in Manila, Philippines from 6-10 December 1993 (see A. Nacu, R. Trono, J. A. Palma, D. Torres & F. Agas, Jr. [eds.] Proceedings of the First ASEAN Symposium-Workshop on Marine Turtle Conservation, World Wildlife Fund, Manila, Philippines, vii + 256 pp [1994]). This bi-lateral agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Government of Malaysia was done at Manila, on the 31 May 1996. This document was provided by the Pawikan Conservation Project, the national marine turtle program of the Philippines, of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Government of the Philippines. The text of the MoA is available at <>[TURTLES ON-LINE][first trans-frontier protected area for sea turtles in the world][bilateral agreement].















The Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of Malaysia hereinafter referred to jointly as “PARTIES” and singly as “PARTY”;


RECOGNIZING the significance of the Turtle Islands as a traditional nesting area of the green (Chelonia mydas) and the hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtles;


REALIZING that effective conservation efforts cannot be independently realized at a national level and that bilateral efforts are necessary to ensure the long-term survival of marine turtles in this part of the region;


DESIRING to jointly manage and protect the only remaining major green turtle habitats and population in the Southeast Asian region through a unified approach in the formulation and attainment of the management and protection strategies/goals;





Article I




Subject to their respective laws, the contracting PARTIES hereby agree to establish the Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area (TIHPA) composed of six islands designated by the Philippines: Boaan, Langaan, Great Bakkungaan, Lihiman, Taganak, and Baguan; and three islands designated by Malaysia; Palau Selingaan, Palau Gulisaan, and Palau Bakkungaan Kechil with their corresponding coordinates:






N Latitude

E Longitude


6O 17’ 16”

118O 04’ 42”


6O 12’ 27”

118O 08’ 59”

Great Bakkungaan

6O 11’ 13”

118O 07’ 15”


6O 14’ 02”

118O 04’ 09”


6O 04’ 38”

118O 19’ 00”


6O 06’ 07”

118O 26’ 58”

Pulau Selingaan

6O 11’ 00”

118O 04’ 00”

Pulau Bakkungaan Kechil

6O 10’ 18”

118O 06’ 00”

Pulau Gulisaan

6O 09’ 00”

118O 03’ 00”



Article II




1.              Subject to their respective laws, the contracting PARTIES shall jointly manage and protect the Turtle Islands Heritage Protected Area as a green and hawksbill turtle sanctuary. The contracting PARTIES shall endeavor to develop an integrated management program that shall highlight, at the minimum, the following:


1.1       Implementation of an integrated and uniform approach to conservation and research that is oriented towards wise management of the TIHPA;


1.2       Establishment of a centralized database and information network on marine turtles;


1.3       Development of appropriate information awareness programs primarily targeted towards the inhabitants of the Turtle Islands on the conservation of marine turtles and the protection of their habitats;


1.4       Implementation of a joint marine turtle resource management program;


1.5       Development and implementation of a training and development program for the staff of the TIHPA; and


1.6       Development and undertaking of eco-tourism programs.


2.              The contracting PARTIES shall adopt a Turtle Conservation and Research Program composed of activities included but not limited to those which appear in Annex A.



Article III

Joint Management Committee



1.              The TIHPA Joint Management Committee (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) is hereby established to implement the purposes specified in Article II of this Agreement.


2.              The Committee shall be composed of five members from each contracting PARTY. The representatives may be accompanied by one or more experts and advisers who may come from non-government organizations involved in the conservation of marine turtles.


3.              The Committee shall serve as the policy-making body of the TIHPA and may coordinate/collaborate with international organizations involved in marine turtles conservation for the realization of the purposes of this Agreement.


4.              The representatives of each contracting PARTY to the Committee shall study and recommend to their respective authorities the enactment of such laws as may be necessary to pursue the purposed of this Agreement.


5.              The Committee shall render periodic reports to the Philippines-Malaysia Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation.



Article IV

Implementing Agency



1.              Each contracting PARTY shall designate an appropriate Implementing Agency to enforce, implement and monitor the policies, laws, rules and regulations formulated for the management and protection of the TIHPA.











Article V

Coordination and Linkages



1.              The Committee shall meet at least once a year on dates that shall be agreed upon by the contracting PARTIES.


2.              The Implementing Agency of each contracting PARTY shall maintain active communication with each other to ensure the effective enforcement and implementation of policies and programs as agreed to by the Committee.


3.              Each contracting PARTY shall alternately host the meetings of the Committee.



Article VI




1.              Through funding and technical assistance from donor agencies and non-government organizations, the Committee shall formulate a Sustainable Financing Strategy (SFS) such s the establishment and management of an Environmental Guarantee Fund or Trust Fund to support its program, activities, and operations.


2.              Each contracting PARTY shall be responsible for the administration of funds allocated for their respective activities in pursuance of the programs of the TIHPA.



Article VII

National Laws and Regulations



1.              Matters or issues not covered by the foregoing provisions shall be subject to the respective national laws and regulations of the contracting PARTIES.


2.              Nothing in this Agreement shall modify any existing agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Government of Malaysia.





Article VIII

Interpretation and Application



The contracting PARTIES shall resolve any differences arising from the interpretation and application of this Agreement through mutual consultation. However, in instances where differences cannot be resolved through consultation, the matter shall be referred to the Philippines-Malaysia Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation for resolution.



Article IX




This Agreement may be amended at any time by mutual agreement of both contracting PARTIES, provided that such amendments shall not prejudice the execution and implementation of existing contracts, projects and programs.



Article X

Entry into Force



This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of the exchange of the diplomatic notes indicating that the legal requirements and formalities under the respective laws of the contracting PARTIES have been completed.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the duly authorized representatives of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of Malaysia have signed this Memorandum of Agreement.


DONE at Manila, on the 31st day of May, 1996, in four originals, two each in the Malay and English languages, both texts being equally authentic.


In case of divergent interpretation of the Malay and English texts, the English text shall prevail.



For and on behalf of the                                  For and on behalf of the

Government of the Philippines                      Government of Malaysia



Hon. Domingo L. Siason, Jr.               Yb. Datuk Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi

Sec., Dept of Foreign Affairs                          Minister of Foreign Affairs












1.              Protection of nesting habitat

2.              Prohibition of sand and coral excavation

3.              Protection and rehabilitation of beach vegetation

4.              Beach clearing activities

5.              Protection of adult turtles

6.              Prohibition of the use of fishing gears contributing to mortality or disturbance of turtles within the TIHPA

7.              Screening of lights from buildings

8.              Protection from main forms of pollution that might endanger turtles

9.              Formulation of a Joint Management Plan for the TIHPA





1.              Population status and distribution

2.              Turtle harvest management

3.              Dynamics of turtle egg trade

4.              DNA analysis

5.              Determination of the sex ratio in ex situ hatching

6.              Tagging of turtles

7.              Joint resource and ecological assessment

8.              Joint socio-cultural economic and investment opportunities assessment