TUGUEGARAO CITY – The rehabilitation of the Cagayan River will start soon after the signing of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and two operator-dredgers on Thursday.
The MOA on the Cagayan River Restoration Project was signed by DENR through Cagayan Valley regional executive director Gwendolyn Bambalan and the Great River North Consortium managing head Antonio Talaue, and president Feng Li of Riverfront Construction Incorporated.
In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte directed the dredging of heavily silted rivers in the Philippines including the Cagayan River, the country’s longest and biggest river.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu issued last February 27, DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2020-07 rationalizing dredging activities in heavily silted river channels in the country to help restore their natural state and water flow and reduce flooding, and to protect and properly manage the disposition of sand.
The DAO also requires a holder of an approved dredging clearance to apply for an authority to dispose of extracted material from the River Dredging Zone through a memorandum of agreement with the DENR Regional Office.
It further states that to open up heavily-silted river channels, areas starting from the coastline of river deltas extending all the way upstream, following the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Dredging Master Plan, shall be designated as exclusive River Dredging Zones by the Interagency Committee (IAC).
For Cagayan River, the IAC has approved the River Dredging Plan covering 30.8 kilometers as River Dredging Zone.
“The proponents will be shouldering all the expenses related to the dredging activities,” said Bambalan, vice-chair of the IAC on the Restoration of the Cagayan River.
The regional environment chief said Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba last June 8 submitted to Cimatu plans to undertake river restoration through dredging activities and the same was approved by the DENR on June 16.
“The Interagency Committee ensures that all activities pertaining to dredging will be as compliant as possible to all the requirements imposed by the government particularly in ensuring environmental consideration in terms of dredging,” Bambalan said, adding that all the requirements were met such as the issuance of Dredging Clearance by the DPWH and the Environmental Compliance Certificate by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
In his message, Mamba, IAC chair, said the project “is a dream come true” for the province of Cagayan. “Matagal na nating pangarap ito (We been dreaming about this for so long)… We should dredge the Cagayan River to mitigate flooding in the region. We should also dredge the river to open our port, port of Aparri, which (is) closed because of the heavy siltation of the Cagayan River.”
“Napakalaking tulong at napakalaking oportunidad nito para sa ating lahat (This is a big help and big opportunity for all of us). We can be connected to our neighbors up north who are economic tigers of Asia. We need them and they need us,” Mamba added.
Under the MOA, the DENR shall conduct survey of non-metallic and metallic resources in the River Dredging Zone to determine metallic and other valuable materials in economic quantities. It shall also monitor the operation of the operator-dredger to ensure faithful compliance with applicable environmental laws, rules, and regulations.
The dredging companies shall undertake the project without any funding from the government and bear the full cost of the project including the disposal of the dredged materials; and shall not process dredged materials and shall dispose the same outside the Philippine territorial jurisdiction.
They shall also report to the DENR all findings of precious metals or objects which they may inadvertently come across which may be of local or national interest.
During the MOA signing, Mines and Geosciences Bureau regional head Mario Ancheta issued the certificate of accreditation to the two companies as dealers, traders, and/ or retailers of minerals/mineral products and/or by-products.
The accreditation is solely for Cagayan River Restoration via dredging and shall be valid for two years. (PNA)