DENR to conduct nationwide waterways dredging project, evaluates Laguna Lake

Marje Pelayo   •   November 17, 2020   •   440

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu wants an immediate assessment of the major waterways like rivers across the country to determine which of them needs to undergo dredging.

Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the Department is planning a dredging operation in the Cagayan River which carries water from Nueva Ecija to Appari. 

The recent onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses caused the river to overflow its banks and submerge nearby areas like Cagayan and Isabela.

In his last briefing with President Rodrigo Duterte, Cimatu said the government will not shell out any amount for the project but it will gain from it instead.

“It will be really a request of the governor to allow a contractor to clean or to dredge the river and at the same time in exchange of that, he has allowed to sell this sand,” Cimatu said.

“But they have to pay as much as what the mining company is paying for – 4% excise tax as a revenue of the government,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) is studying the proposed plan to rehabilitate the lake.

According to the agency, the Laguna Lake is now about 2.5 meters deep as compared to 5 meters that the locals used to observe in the past.

According to LLDA Department Manager III Emeterio Hernandez, they have to remove at least 2 meters of sediments or silt from the lake, especially at the opening section and the western section to make space for water flowing from nearby waterways like Marikina River.

“Ang ibang common term dyan is parang batya na sinasahod niya lahat ng ulan na nanggagaling sa ating mga watershed,” Hernandez said.

[The common term for that is like a basin that catches the rain coming from the watershed.]

“So kung ang batya natin ay medyo mababaw na, so ineexpect natin na kaunting dagdag lang ng tubig mag ooverflow siya,” he added.

[So if the basin becomes shallow, with only a small amount the water will overflow.]

No government funding will be required for the dredging operation, Hernandez said.

Once approved, the project is expected to commence next year and will be completed hopefully within the next 3 to 5 years. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Wildlife conservation must continue amid pandemic —DENR

Aileen Cerrudo   •   December 16, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has reiterated the need to continue wildlife conservation even amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

This was after a nesting sea turtle was sighted in Zambales province. DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu also reported several sightings of nesting sea turtles were in other areas.

“Even if we are faced with a difficult situation brought about by the threats of the disease, we must continue to strive to protect and preserve our endangered pawikan,” he said.

He added that the sightings prove that the efforts of conserving wildlife was not in vain.

The DENR’s Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) in Olongapo City also received a report that sea turtles laying eggs were spotted at a beach resort in San Antonio town.

The DENR said they will monitor the situation of these nests to protect them from poachers and illegal wildlife traders.  AAC

DENR orders bamboo planting along Cagayan River to prevent floods

Robie de Guzman   •   December 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered the planting of bamboo trees along the banks of Cagayan to help prevent a repeat of the floods that submerged parts of Cagayan and Isabela provinces during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

The DENR said Cimatu issued that directive following a meeting with the Build Back Better Task Force created by President Rodrigo Duterte to oversee the rehabilitation of areas devastated by recent typhoons.

Cimatu co-chairs the task force with Public Works and Highways Secretary Mark Villar.

Cimatu told the DENR regional offices in Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and CALABARZON to ensure the availability of bamboo planting materials and to identify areas along the river channels that are most suitable for bamboo propagation under the government’s Enhanced National Greening Program.

The DENR chief said they picked bamboo as it is ideal for stabilizing riverbanks given its high survival rate.

“The survival rate of bamboo is much higher and it has a faster growth rate compared to other trees,” he said, adding that bamboos also have the potential to be “a sustainable source of livelihood for the people of Cagayan Valley while protecting the integrity of Cagayan River.”

In the same meeting, Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Blesila Lantayona said the DENR’s move to plant bamboo trees offers an opportunity to look into the economic importance of bamboo.

Lantayona said the DTI has been producing engineered bamboo, but its facilities cannot operate at full capacity because there is currently a lack of bamboo supply.

“Cimatu’s push to mainstream engineered bamboo as a major alternative to timber will finally enable the full implementation of Executive Order (EO) 879,” she said.

Under EO 879, at least 25 percent of the annual requirement of school desks and chairs of all public elementary and secondary schools nationwide should be made of bamboo.

It also directs the DENR – through its Forest Management Bureau, Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Laguna Lake Development Authority – to use bamboo as the planting material for at least 20 percent of its annual reforestation and rehabilitation areas.

“This should be done especially in provinces and towns which are engaged in or have the potential to engage in bamboo-based industries or where trees are difficult to grow because of poor site quality, susceptibility to erosion or adverse and steep gradients,” the DENR said.

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LLDA backs proposed P609-B Laguna de Bay rehab project

Robie de Guzman   •   November 26, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) has expressed support for an unsolicited proposal from a private consortium to rehabilitate and develop Laguna de Bay.

LLDA General Manager Jaime Medina said the agency’s Board of Directors has endorsed the proposed P609-billion rehabilitation and development project “after months of review and evaluation.”

LLDA is an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Medina said the endorsement of the project came after the spate of typhoons, the latest of which was Typhoon Ulysses that triggered massive flooding in the National Capital Region, Rizal province and other areas.

“This is a welcome opportunity as this will truly aid in addressing the Laguna Lake’s continual problems in siltation, industrial pollution, sedimentation, and lakeshore flooding,” he said in a statement.

Medina said the project proponent has been issued “original proponent status” (OPS) and that the project is now under review by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), through its Public-Private Partnership Center.

The consortium, after being granted the OPS, now has the authority to match better offers submitted by other rivals when a Swiss challenge is undertaken for the project, he explained.

The LLDA endorsement will be evaluated by NEDA’s Investment Coordination Committee to determine the reasonable rate of return and other parameters for negotiation, Medina said.

The decision on whether to approve or deny the proposal will be up to the NEDA Board, he added.

The rehabilitation project, which is proposed to be undertaken in a span of 5 to 10 years, includes the dredging of approximately 800 million cubic meter of silt and mud, assistance to affected fisherfolk and other stakeholders, and silt transfer and development of pre-identified catchment area to be done in phases while the dredging process progresses.

The unsolicited proposal will be under the Build-Own-Operate (BOO) scheme, which means that the proponent will finance, construct, operate, maintain and own facility and can collect fees and charges to recover their investment.

The government will provide the authorization and assistance in securing the BOO contract and has the option to buy the output or service provided by the operator.

The consortium is led by Taguig Lake City Development Corporation (TLCDC), with two big foreign companies as partners that have the experience, expertise and track record in undertaking such project.

The LLDA said it has sent a briefer thru a Memorandum to the Office of the President regarding the urgent need to rehabilitate the waters of Laguna Lake in order to sustain and enhance aquatic life therein; the critical need to increase and improve the holding capacity and water quality of the Laguna Lake in order to viably and effectively access the lake as a domestic water source, and the real potential of Laguna Lake and its outlying areas to significantly enhance water quality and boost socio-economic growth in the region and in the country.

The Laguna de Bay is the largest lake in the Philippines, with around 100 rivers and streams draining into it, making it prone to flooding. The Napindan Channel, through the Pasig River, drains the lake waters to Manila Bay.

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