Geopark seeks gov’t help to protect reforestation project from quarrying

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 3, 2020   •   792

Masungi Georeserve

“Our trees are bleeding.”

This is according to a post of the Masungi Georeserve on February 26. Their Facebook post showed barbed wires driven into trees in one of the reforestation site in Masungi.

The geopark, located in the Rizal province, reiterated that the area is a geohazard zone as stated by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau.

“It is also part of a larger protected area—the Upper Marikina River Protected Landscape—where quarrying and other extractive activities are banned,” their post reads.

The Masungi Georeserve is now waiting for the official order of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to protect its reforestation project from quarrying.

The geopark wants the strict implementation of the Department Order 1993-33 which prohibits extractive industries, particularly mining and quarrying, in Masungi and its vicinity.

A petition has also been put up to save the Masungi Georeserve from quarrying.

“We are hopeful that the Central Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will finally release an official order on the quarry, and implement the laws that protect Masungi and the wildlife that call it home,” according to a recent post of Masungi Georeserve.—AAC

DENR eyes restoring original width of Marikina River to reduce flood risk

Marje Pelayo   •   November 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said Marikina River must be widened to reduce flood risk.

During a recent visit to Marikina City, Cimatu recommended the widening of Marikina River to increase its flood carrying capacity.

The recommendation comes after Marikina City and nearby areas were submerged in flood waters during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

The environment chief noticed that the river channel was narrow, prompting him to call for strict imposition of easement requirements pertaining to rivers.

Presidential Decree 1067, also known as the Philippine Water Code, requires riverbank easement of three meters in urban areas.

As part of the planned rehabilitation, Cimatu said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will evaluate the changes in the width of Marikina River based on the data from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NMRIA).

“We will look into the old river and how the river became narrower through the years,” Cimatu said. 

“We will restore the original width of the Marikina River,” he added.

At the same time, Cimatu said the DENR will look into the complaint of the Marikina City government over the alleged reclamation project along the river, which has not secured an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the environment department.

“Definitely, there should be no reclamation. I will really implement the easement law,” he said.

Cimatu said he has directed the DENR-National Capital Region office to look into the non-issuance of ECC, the reclamation, and the retaining wall built along the riverbanks.

DENR to conduct nationwide waterways dredging project, evaluates Laguna Lake

Marje Pelayo   •   November 17, 2020

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)

DENR sends team to investigate lahar flow in Guinobatan, Albay

Marje Pelayo   •   November 5, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered an investigation into the incident of lahar flow in Barangay San Francisco in Guinobatan, Albay which is being associated with quarry operations at the foot of Mount Mayon.

A team from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is on its way to the site to assess and delve into what caused the incident. 

President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the DENR and other concerned agencies to investigate the matter as residents blame the quarrying activities in the area for the lahar flow.

According to Environment Undersecretary Jones Leones, around 100 quarry operators are now under investigation. 

Some of them acquired their permits from the local government unit (LGU) while others are said to not have a permit to operate at all, the official noted.

The agency targets to complete its investigation and come up with a report within the next 15 days.

“Kasi ang nangyari doon, because of the heavy rains parang naging shallow ang riverbeds doon. Nagkaroon ngayon ng overflowing. Nag-flooding doon. Saka ang mga buhangin masyadong malakas kasi maraming naka-stock doon sa periphery ng bulkan [What happened there was the riverbeds became shallow due to the heavy rains. The river overflowed; thus, the flooding. And a large stock of sand at the periphery of the volcano came raging down],” Leones explained.

“So noong umulan talagang nagbagsakan ang mga buhangin, mga quarrying materials [So when it rained, the sand and other quarrying materials cascaded rapidly],” he added.

Leones stressed that any operator who will be proven to be guilty of negligence or violations may face administrative charges.

Affected residents may also claim for damages that cause them, the official added.

“Kung may napinsalang indibidwal on the basis of our findings pwede nilang magamit iyon para mag claim sila ng danyos or magkaroon ng criminal case sila against doon sa sinomang nakagawa ng pinsala sa kanila [If any individual was hurt or affected, on the basis of our findings, they could file for claims for the damages or they may file a criminal case against those that cause them damage],” Usec. Leones said.

According to Albay Governor Al Bichara, they will cooperate with the order of the President, but appealed that the investigation should be finished first before suspending the operations as the materials from the quarrying operations will be needed for the rehabilitation of damaged houses and establishments in the province.

“If they will stop quarrying, we will run out of aggregates for reconstruction, rehabilitation of our province, not only that of the region because most of the aggregates come from Albay,” the governor said in a statement.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) earlier noted that lahar or mudflow usually searches an alternative path on the slope of the volcano if the old one turns shallow.

This could also happen to other volcanoes like in Mt. Pinatubo, the agency warns. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

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