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‘Prioritize rehabilitation of Marikina watershed’ – La Liga Policy Institute

THE La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) is urging the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to step up reforestation of critical watersheds in the country to prevent disasters brought about by geological hazards such flashfloods and landslides.
Marikina Watershed portion in Antipolo City

In particular, La Liga managing director Roland Cabigas said priority should be given for the rehabilitation of the Marikina Watershed to enhance the natural protection it provides to low-lying areas that are at risk of being submerged by floodwater or buried underneath tons of soil and mud in the event of flood, landslide or mudslide.

Cabigas issued the appeal as the DENR steps up the implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP) which aims to plant 1.5 billion trees in 1.5 million hectares of open, denuded and degraded forests within the next six years.

For 2012, the DENR was given a budget of P4.9 billion to implement the program.  The amount is roughly 29% of the DENR’s total budget of P16.9 billion. With the budget for the program, 77 million trees are to be planted in 150,000 hectares.

According to Cabigas, the Marikina Watershed is in critical condition because of the rapid rate of deforestation and the failure to initiate an effective reforestation program.

Of the 33,000-hectare Marikina Watershed, only 22 per cent remains covered with trees and forest vegetation.

The Marikina River

The Marikina River is heavily silted because of the rapid deforestation of what is supposed to be a protected area.  The siltation of the Marikina River is being blamed as the reason why the river easily overflows and cause severe flooding.  This situation endangers the lives of tens of thousands of people living in low-lying areas in Rizal and Metro Manila,” Cabigas stressed.

According to Cabigas, the rehabilitation of the Marikina Watershed is long overdue and it is high time that the DENR gives it the much needed attention. 

The Alliance of Seven LGUs or A7, composed of Marikina, Pasig, Antipolo and Quezon City, the Municipalities of Cainta, Rodriguez and San Mateo, has partnered with RESILIENCE and La Liga to boost the resilience of the LGUs through disaster prevention in times of natural calamities such as typhoons that trigger flashfloods.

The said areas were among the worst affected by Ondoy and Pepeng in the last quarter of 2009.

The DENR which has the financial capacity to fund its rehabilitation should recognize the urgency of the situation,” he said.

As part of its preparation for the worst impacts of climate change, the A7-RESILIENCE 2011-2013 Integrated Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Program was recently launched, as part of the climate change adaptation and mitigation measure identified by various stakeholders.

The program is a two-year, P35-billion budget, DRR plan developed jointly by the A7 technical working group representing LGU members of the alliance and Resilience, in partnership with La Liga to enhance the individual and collective capacities of A7 member-LGUs in dealing with natural calamities.

It was approved by A7 member-LGUs led by the local chief executives for adoption and mainstreaming into the DRR and management plans of individual A7 member -cities and municipalities and will be presented to Pres. Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, hoping to get funding support for its effective implementation.

The DRR and management program has five major components including establishment of the A7 DRR baseline detailing the vulnerabilities and risk as well as the capacities and needs for an effective DRR management; establishment of an A7-wide integrated early warning and command system; rehabilitation and reforestation the Marikina Watershed; identify communities at risk and develop in-city and inter-LGU resettlement and relocation measures; and identify and construct DRR-informed and effective infrastructure projects.

This comprehensive program aims to reduce the risks and better manage the vulnerabilities of the A7 communities to inherent disasters and hazards in their areas such as floods, landslides and earthquakes. It combines upstream and downstream interventions to address the hazards and risks. Ultimately, this program endeavors to contribute to President Aquino’s commitment of providing safer, highly adaptive and more resilient communities and cities,” Cabigas said. (La Liga Policy Institute)

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