Watershed advocates laud Duterte’s move in protecting Davao watershed areas

October 11, 2009 9:49 pm 

DAVAO CITY, Oct. 12 — Watershed advocates lauded Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte’s Executive Order (EO) 22, which seeks protection of the city’s watershed areas.

"Katilingban Alang sa Way Puas ug Limpyong Tubig" (Kawal-Tubig) spokesman Dominador Lopez said the organization’s members welcome the mayor’s move to create bodies that will protect the watersheds.

Duterte signed EO 22 on September 22, creating and constituting the Watershed Management Council (WMC), the Barangay Watershed Management Councils (BWMC), and the Watershed Multipartite Monitoring Teams (WMMT) to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the Watershed Code.

The Watershed Code was enacted on January 23, 2007. Its implementing rules and regulations (IRR) were approved on October 15, 2008.

In addition, the EO 22 also allots P5 million as budget for the watershed councils and the city mayor will sit as chair of the WMC, with the city administrator as the vice chair.

“The implementation of the Watershed Code provisions can now begin. As long as the members of these local bodies do their responsibilities, implementation can focus on programs that will rehabilitate degraded watersheds and protect these natural resources from further degradation or depletion of water from within,” Lopez said.

Brewing debates on whether Davao City will allow Hedcor, Inc. hydroelectric power project to operate in Panigan-Tamugan Rivers, the recent order from Duterte speaks volumes of his desire to protect the city’s environment, most especially the rivers which is the city's one and only drinking water source, Lopez said.

Kawal-Tubig has been protesting the Hedcor’s hydroelectric power project in Panigan-Tamugan Rivers.

The project will be located at the upper reaches of these two rivers that will potentially dry up vital portions of these two bodies of water, eventually affecting the capacity of the rivers to supply future drinking water needs, Lopez said.

The group argued this is Hedcor's plan to divert the flow of the river and redirect it to its powerhouse, consequently disrupting the natural flow and the needed volume of water for a healthy river ecosystem, Lopez said.

The matter remains unresolved as the Watershed Code identifies Panigan-Tamugan rivers as protected areas.

Both Hedcor, who plans to build a power plant, and Davao City Water District (DCWD), who plans to tap the surface water of the Tamugan River, will have to get the City Council’s approval following guidelines of the Code.

Through EO 22, the WMC is mandated to issue policies and guidelines and set the direction of collaboration in gathering, processing and evaluating information on watershed areas in Davao. It is also tasked to develop plans and strategies towards ensuring its health and sustainability.

The BMWC and WMMT will both assist in ensuring the effective, efficient and consistent implementation of the Code. (PNA) FFC/JLC/lvp

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