Rehabilitation efforts in the Bicol River are now poised to go full blast with the start of the dredging of one of the ten sandbars constricting the 94-kilometer river which snakes through the provinces of Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Albay.

At the launching of TFBBB’s “Bicol River Restoration Program”   held Tuesday in  barangay San Roque in Camaligan, Camarines Sur,   Department of Environment And Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia bared that the construction of seven flood control projects and the rehabilitation of flood gates and pumping stations along the river system  have already been approved by President Duterte.

“To provide long-term protection to the people of this region,” Garcia said, in reference to the four successive destructive typhoons that crossed  the Bicol region which “is the reason why we are pursuing the construction of flood control projects , a sustainable dredging program and river bank restoration in the Bicol River.”

Garcia, representing  TFBBB chair Roy Cimatu, was joined by TFBBB-Bicol ground commander National Housing Authority (NHA) General Manager Marcelino Escalada, Jr.,  Camarines Sur Governor Miguel Luis "Migz" Reyes Villafuerte and Camarines Sur, 2nd District Representative  Luis Raymund “Lray” Villafuerte  Jr.

“Our short-, medium-  and long-term plans for these areas are already in place,” Garcia said, referring to the ongoing TFBBB rehabilitation and recovery initiatives that started last February in disaster-affected areas in Cagayan Valley, the Marikina River Basin and Bicol.

According to Engineer Jerry Fano, head  of the Project Office of Flood Control Management Cluster of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH),  the drainage capacity of the river has been greatly reduced  especially the downstream portion of the river where average river width of 80 meters is now reduced to just 55 meters thus contributing to widespread flooding in outlying areas.

Fano, also representing DPWH Secretary and TFBBB co-chair Mark Villar , noted that they have identified priority 10 sandbars that need to be dredged which have  an estimated  total volume of 1.63 million cubic meters.

“This dredged material is equivalent to 200 Olympic-size swimming pools,” Fano said, noting an Olympic-size pool measures 50 meters long, 25 meters  wide and a minimum of  two meters deep.

He likewise said that Lake Bato, from which Bicol River starts, needs to be dredged involving some 9.4 million cubic meters of silt, specifically at the junction of Naporog River and Quinale A River.

Fano noted that despite the smaller amount of rainfall brought by  Typhoon Ulysses that hit Bicol in November 11-12 last year, it caused massive flooding in Bicol because of the amount of rains from three previous successive storms that hit almost the same areas within two weeks (typhoons Quinta  on October 25-26 and  Tonyo  on November 8-9) resulting to the super saturation of the catchment area of Bicol River.  Super Typhoon Rolly (international name: Goni) with the maximum sustained strength of 195 kph – compared to Typhoon Yolanda with strength of 190 kph -  is the strongest typhoon in history to make a landfall (PAGASA).

Citing data from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Fano said Bicol bore the brunt of Typhoon  Rolly in terms of damages to infrastructure at P12.2 billion or 97 percent of the total P12.9-billion infrastructure damage in Luzon due to the typhoon.

Fano also added the Bicol region accounted for P3.6 billion  or 72 percent of the total P5-billion  in damages to agriculture in Luzon left by the typhoon. xxxx

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and Task Force Build Back Better (TF BBB) Chairman Roy A. Cimatu has announced the dredging of sandbars along a narrow section of the 94-kilometer Bicol River starting March 23.

"TF BBB's rehabilitation efforts on the Bicol River completes the triumvirate targets to which we have committed ourselves to complete within the term of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte for Cagayan River, Marikina River, and Bicol River," Cimatu said.

Cimatu pointed out that the TF BBB has early on mounted activities, such as easement recovery and river bank stabilization efforts through planting and raising of bamboos, prior to the March 23 launch.

"In fact, 49,509 bamboo seedlings have already been planted by some 850 beneficiaries of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) which provided some 1,000 food packs for these planter-volunteers," Cimatu said.

 

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Elmer Navarro Manuel | Daily Tribune

09 January 2021

Multinational conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (SMC) is now setting its sights to intensify its dredging operations at the Tullahan-Tinajeros River System in the first two quarters of the year before the rainy season sets in.
This is to help reduce flooding at areas near the 27 kilometer-long tributary stretching from La Mesa Dam to the Manila Bay.

It comes after SMC president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang announced that the company was able to extract 83,600 metric tons of silt and solid waste from the river in 2020, despite limitations brought on by the Luzon-wide lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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January 29, 2021

QUEZON CITY, Jan. 29 -- The removal of sandbars to clear the constricted section of Cagayan River, known as the Magapit Narrows, and the massive planting of bamboo along its bank will begin on February 2, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and Task Force Build Back Better chair Roy A. Cimatu announced on Wednesday.

"This is the culmination of weeks of meticulous planning and detailed coordination to ensure that each of the dredging equipment is safely transported to the sandbar sites and that bamboos are grown at critical portions of the riverbank needing immediate measures to address stream bank erosion and instability.

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Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Build Back Better Task Force (BBBTF) Chairperson Roy A. Cimatu  wants a more pre-emptive approach  in its anti-illegal logging strategies to prevent illegall loggers from cutting trees. 

Cimatu said    “the recent floodings should serve as a wake up call for a re-examination of our models of the forest protection operations which I think have been largely measured  in terms of apprehended undocumented forest products and not in terms of standing trees.” Cimatu said

“My  priority is to prevent the cutting,” Cimatu said, adding that apprehended cut trees reported as accomplishments by DENR field officers is telling of the quality of their forest protection efforts within their respective  jurisdiction.

“Ang trophy ay yung nakatayong mga puno, hindi yung mga putol na,” Cimatu stressed  as a reminder to DENR field officers that apprehended undocumented forest products “should actually be regarded as their failure to prevent these trees from being illegally cut.”  ‘pero kung naputol na yan, hulihin na lang natin , pero hindi pa rin tayo happy nyan.” 

At the same time, Cimatu tasked DENR Undersecretary  for Special Concerns Bernardo Leonardo to  lead the creation and operationalization of three special composite teams that would augment anti-illegal logging operations in Cagayan Valley,  the Bicol Region , including the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.

Cimatu said the creation of the augmentation teams in these areas is a strategic move on the part of the DENR to shift its orientation in its forest protection operation more towards prevention by “going hard and swift” against the financiers and operators.

The Order is pursuant to Executive Order 23 of 2011 which calls for the creation, from the national to the regional and provincial levels,  of  Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force and composed  of representatives from the DENR as chair; and from the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Department of Defense, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as members. Cimatu also said that the pro-active and aggressive  whole-of-society approach in anti-illegal logging campaign will be implemented, highlighting the role of LGUs and strong citizen and community participation.

He  said  “pinpointing”  those  behind illegal logging  activities “is the key,” while noting that  only transporters and buyers in possession of cut undocumented forest products  are oftentimes collared  in  illegal logging operations.

The DENR’s Environment Protection and Enforcement Task Force (EPETF) reported that some 40,385 boardfeet of undocumented forest products have been apprehended during the pandemic months between June  to September 2020.

Most of the apprehended forest products were narra, red and white lauan, bagtikan and bitaog.

Five conveyances were also apprehended during the period consisting of  two six-wheeler trucks, two closed vans and a motorcycle.

Cimatu reiterated that he  would not scale down efforts to enforce forestry laws during the pandemic and that field officers would continue to patrol forests.

 "We expect to  increase the intensity in running after  forest crimes as severely as possible so that there is a deterrent effect,” Cimatu said.