BAGUIO CITY (December 24, 2020) – Rehabilitation of the Cagayan River starts anytime soon with the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the environment department and two operator-dredgers was sealed on December 10 by DENR Cagayan Valley Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan with the Great River North Consortium represented by its Managing Head Antonio Talaue and Riverfront Construction Incorporated led by its President Feng Li.
Bambalan, vice chair of the Inter-agency committee (IAC) on the Restoration of the Cagayan River assured that the dredging activities will be at no cost to the government as “the proponents will be shouldering all the expenses related to the dredging activities.”
President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 ordered the dredging of heavily silted rivers in the country including the Cagayan River, the country’s longest and biggest river.
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu issued on February 27, 2020 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 extracted material from the River Dredging Zone through MOA with the DENR Regional Office. It further states that in order to open up heavily-silted river channels, areas starting from the coastline of river deltas extending all the way upstream, in accordance with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Dredging Master Plan, shall be designated as exclusive River Dredging Zones by IAC.
Bambalan said Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba wayback on June 8, 2020 proposed to Sec. Cimatu his intent to undertake river restoration through dredging activities. A week later, Cimatu approved the proposal.
The River Dredging Plan covers 30.8 kilometers as River Dredging Zone.
Bambalan assured “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.”
All requirements, the DENR Region 2 said, were met such as the issuance of Dredging Clearance by the DPWH and the Environmental Compliance Certificate by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
Gov. Mamba, who chairs the IAC said “it is a dream come true” for Cagayan, citing dredging the river will mitigate the flooding in the Cagayan Valley region. The official also indicated that dredging the river will lead to opening the Port of Aparri, which according to him, have been closed because of heavy siltation.
The MOA stipulates that 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 contractors — Great River North Consortium and the Riverfront Construction Inc. — shall dispose the dredged materials, shall not process dredged materials and shall dispose it outside the Philippine territorial jurisdiction. They shall also report to the DENR any and all findings of precious metals or objects which they may inadvertently come across which may be of local or national interest.
Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Director Mario Ancheta has issued a certificate of accreditation to the two companies as dealer, trader and/ or retailer of minerals/mineral products and/or by-products. The accreditation is solely for Cagayan River Restoration thru dredging and shall be valid for a period of two years.
Artemio A. Dumlao
December 24, 2020
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