President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, together with the members of his Cabinet, approved the fast-tracking of flood mitigation projects of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and measures to ensure forest protection and management of protected areas, which are part of the recommendations of the Task Force Build Back Better (TFBBB).
In a press briefing in Malacañang on December 17, Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. said that PRRD and the Cabinet approved the recommendations presented by TFBBB Chairperson and Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu with regard to the plans of the task force.
Included in the recommendations on flood mitigation and management is to mobilize and sustain the deployment of government assets including those of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the DPWH for the widening of the Magapit Narrows and the removal of 19 sandbars in the Cagayan River.
“Ito po yung dahilan kung bakit napakatindi po ng pagbaha doon sa Cagayan lalong-lalo na dun sa Alcala kung saan mayroon palang tatlong sandbars na kinakailangan tanggalin,” said Secretary Roque.
Another recommendation is to restore Marikina River to its original state by removing illegal structures. “Lumalabas po kase na nagkaroon pala ng reclamation dyan sa Marikina River na naging dahilan kung bakit nabago po yung orihinal na flow ng river at dahilan kung bakit matindi po ang pagbabaha ngayon dyan sa Marikina,” Secretary Roque remarked.
Among the DPWH flood mitigation projects that will be fast-tracked is the Upper Marikina Dam and the Parañaque Spillway.
Rounding off the recommendations on flood mitigation and management is the rehabilitation of existing flood gates and pumping stations, and the construction of seven flood control projects in the Bicol River.
On forest protection and protected area management, TFBBB recommended the enforcement of the whole-of-society approach in the campaign against illegal logging in the Sierra Madre, Cordillera, Caraballo Mountain, and Marikina River Basin, with the active participation of the local government units.
Another is to intensify the management of protected areas in the Sierra Madre, Marikina, and Bicol River Basins.
Lastly, the task force requested the President to certify as urgent House Bill No. 6973 and Senate Bill No. 1878: An Act Creating the Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau under the DENR.
In the same press briefing, Secretary Cimatu presented the data that the task force gathered, which he said became the basis for their recommendations. Sec. Cimatu said that he personally went and monitored the areas covered by the 500-kilometer Cagayan River to be able to see what causes the flooding.
Cimatu said that aside from engineering interventions, they also plan to restore the 20-meter easement in the Cagayan River to ensure that there will be no structures built on the riverbank within 20 meters on both sides of the river. The task force also plans to plant trees, including bamboo, in the length of the Cagayan river. ### OPS-PCOO