Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade (File photo)
TUGUEGARAO CITY, Cagayan – Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has committed to help concerned government agencies address flooding woes in the Cagayan Valley.
Tugade made this commitment as he reports on the round-the-clock response efforts and actions of the DOTr, through the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), amid the widespread flooding in Cagayan and Isabela due to Typhoon Ulysses that battered Luzon last Wednesday.
He joined President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and other Cabinet members in a situation briefing to discuss the aftermath of “Ulysses” in the Cagayan Valley in their visit to Tuguegarao City in Cagayan on Sunday.
Tugade, who hails from Claveria, Cagayan, was tasked to divert the agency’s resources, as necessary, to aid relief operations and other efforts that will sustain much-needed assistance to the affected residents.
In his report, Tugade pointed out the continuous dredging of the Cagayan River and the reforestation efforts in the area as being integral in preventing deadly floods.
“I’ve seen deforestation and the Buntun Bridge overflowed, along Cagayan River. There are two things we need to address: No. 1, stop the cutting of trees or a need to continue reforestation program. No. 2, dredging of Cagayan River. If these will not be done, flooding will continue to happen,” Tugade said.
Tugade committed to help in the reforestation of various flood-prone areas in the country by making it mandatory for public transport cooperatives and individuals to commit a specific number of trees to be planted before acquiring a franchise or license.
He said the mandatory scheme was suggested by a Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) regional director during their meeting.
Tugade added that the DOTr will be closely coordinating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the local government units to identify areas where reforestation is needed and that this initiative will be implemented nationwide.
During the briefing with the President, Tugade also reported on the continuous rescue and relief operations conducted by its attached agency, the PCG, headed by its commandant, Admiral George Ursabia Jr., before, during, and even after the devastation of “Ulysses”.
“The Philippine Coast Guard leads the transportation department in Cagayan Valley Region where they work almost non-stop. PCG commandant Ursabia sent floaters, like boat and trucks. We also used choppers and airplanes of the Philippine Coast Guard to help in rescue, retrieval and relief operations,” Tugade said.
Within this week, he said the DOTr will also participate in the distribution of relief goods, including food and water, to typhoon victims.
Additionally, in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Employment, the DOTr will be donating 100 fiber glass boats to coastal communities.
Tugade said that these boats will not only help fisherfolk in their livelihood, but will also serve as rescue equipment when needed.
Meanwhile, he said no damages to the airports, seaports, and other DOTr agencies’ facilities were reported in Northern Luzon. (PNA)iam