MANILA – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Monday it will coordinate with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for the infrastructure development in Cagayan province, which was hit hard by massive flooding brought by Typhoon Ulysses.
“Despite our efforts to rehabilitate our forest through our National Greening Program, talagang ang pagbabago ng klima, talagang hindi po natin maiiwasan, nandito na po sa ating paligid iyan. Ang kinakailangan na lang po natin ay talagang mag-adapt dito sa mga epekto ng climate change (we cannot avoid climate change, it is already in our environment. What we need to do now is to adapt to the effects of climate change),” DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones said during a Laging Handa public briefing.
Leones said as Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba had suggested, the Cagayan River system should be widened and dredged especially in the part of Alcala.
National Greening Program
Meanwhile, the DENR shall continuously implement the National Greening Program, with forest planting, to at least cushion the effects of climate change.
Leones assured that the Sierra Madre mountain range stretching from Cagayan province to Quezon is still considered a protected area.
While he admits that there is logging in the area, he said 70 percent of Sierra Madre is still vegetated.
He said planting is being done most especially in the upstream area where rain usually falls.
“We do continuous planting there. Our enforcement focuses most especially on illegal logging as we also provide a livelihood to the communities because we noticed that aside from commercial logging, the communities convert the forest lands into agricultural land and plant cash-crops in the sloping areas,” Leones said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Leones said the DENR conducts a massive information dissemination campaign to tell people not to convert forest lands.
He said the DENR also provides livelihood programs where they give seedlings of perennial crops used in agroforestry to provide people with food and protect the forests at the same time.
Mining in the Sierra Madre is in the part of Nueva Vizcaya, Leones said but noted that the DENR assures that they comply with environmental laws.
He said the DENR will not hesitate to stop these activities if they violate existing environmental laws.
With regards to Kaliwa Dam, Leones said the DENR will not approve its construction if it will destroy the forests in the area.
He said the process will pass through intensive studies and reviews that need to be complied with.
Among the conditions is that no trees should be destroyed and massive consultation should be conducted.
“So ito pong mga dams na ito makakaasa po ang ating mga kababayan na titiyakin natin na sa paggawa po sa Kaliwa Dam, bago po tayo magbigay ng permit diyan, dapat po masusi ang pagri-review. At kailangan ma-ensure natin that they will be complying with all our environmental laws and forestry laws (with regards to the dams, the DENR assures that we will be conducting a thorough review and study before issuing a permit for the construction of the Kaliwa Dam and make sure that they will be complying with all our environmental and forestry laws),” Leones said. (PNA)