DENR: Dredging, removal of riverbank structures to prevent Cagayan River flooding
Photos from the Philippine Coast Guard show some Filipinos in the municipalities of Amulung, Alcala, Lal-lo, and Gattaran in Cagayan remain trapped on their roofs. They have since been rescued.
Philippine Coast Guard/Release

DENR: Dredging, removal of riverbank structures to prevent Cagayan River flooding

Artemio Dumlao ( - November 25, 2020 - 11:03am

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — Dredging the Cagayan River and the strict implementation of the 20-meter easement rule will help avert a repeat of the massive flooding in Cagayan and Isabela provinces,  the environment department believes.

Such plan was received warmly by the four governors and 31 mayors of the Cagayan Valley region during a meeting this week with Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in Tuguegarao City, said DENR-Cagayan Valley Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan.

Cimatu said a working group will be created and will conduct a joint meeting to determine necessary engineering interventions along the river, the longest in the Philippines and the largest in terms of discharge.

The environment chief co-chairs the "Build Back Better Task Force" created by President Rodrigo Duterte to oversee the rehabilitation of areas devastated by recent typhoons.

The planned working group will be comprise the governors of Cagayan, Isabela, Quirino and Nueva Vizcaya, as well as the nearby Cordillera Administrative Region, added Balbalan.

Aside from the immediate dredging of the heavily-silted Cagayan River, the environment chief underscored the strict implementation of the easement rule along its riverbanks.

"We have to follow the 20-meter easement. There should be no building or any structure within the easement zone," Cimatu was quoted by Bambalan as saying.

"Cimatu also asked Tuguegarao City Mayor Jefferson Soriano to address the problem of illegal structures along creeks that block the waterways. He also instructed (me) and Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region 2 Director Mario Ancheta to work with concerned provincial governments for the relocation of communities living along riverbanks," Bambalan said.

The MGB was also ordered to close down small-scale mining operations in a hazard-prone area in Quezon town in Nueva Vizcaya, where nine deaths were reported due to landslides during the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses.

Though the MGB in Cagayan Valley region was also tasked to identify a possible Minahang Bayan site for those who will be displaced by the mines closure to ensure their safety and continued livelihood and to prevent further destruction of the environment.

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