THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has warned against persistent mining and quarry operations in areas identified as unstable, saying these may cause serious damage in low-lying villages and further siltation of the Cagayan River.
In an interview, DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leonel said they are now assessing alternative areas for legal quarry and mining operators in Cagayan Valley, which was affected by last week's massive flooding.
“Gusto po muna natin iwasan dun sa mga area na unstable kasi ito po yung nagbibigay ng silt at sediments na kapag po nagkaroon ng quarry operations dun sa taas, talagang medyo magiging catastrophic po yung magiging epekto (We want to avoid those unstable areas because these are contributory to silt and sediments. Once there are quarry operations on these areas, then it would be catastrophic),” he said during the Network Briefing News with host Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar.
“Ang gusto lang po natin talaga ay yung dun sa mga river system, dun lang po sila pwedeng mag-quarry (We want them to conduct operations in our river system),” he added.
He appealed for illegal miners and quarry operators to already seize operations while assuring that the government is ready to provide alternative livelihood for them.
“Kung ma-suspend man itong mga quarry operations, siguro pwede nating hilingin na bilisan yung assessment so that all illegal quarry operators will be suspended, but legitimate ones and legal operators will be allowed to undertake their quarry operations,” he said.
The DENR has also approved the dredging activity along Cagayan River’s heavily silted channels to address another onset of widespread flooding.
Leonel said the river is becoming shallow and narrower, which minimizes its holding capacity in times of continuous heavy downpour.
“Kailangan linisin natin dahil ito po yung nagko-cause ng flooding. Kung nakabara po 'yang basura at medyo heavily silted, talaga pong tayo ang maaapektuhan (We have to clean it up because it will cause flooding. If there are deposits as it is already heavily silted, then we will be greatly affected),” he said.
At present, the DENR, in coordination with concerned agencies and local government units, is conducting assessment on areas affected by the flood in order to respond with appropriate programs.
Along with the dredging projects to be conducted, Leonel said they have recommended reforestation projects under DENR’s National Greening Projects to be implemented in Cagayan Valley, especially in watershed areas.
The agency is also eyeing reforestation projects in upland areas through its Integrated Social Forestry Program (ISFP), which encourages villagers to cultivate forest trees and agricultural crops.
“Meron din po tayong available na perennial crops na pwede nating ilagay din sa kagubatan. Hindi man mapuputol but the communities can benefit from the fruits of the trees that it can provide. This can be part of the alternative livelihood to be given to the communities instead na magputol pa sila dun (We also have perennial crops that we can plant in forests. This can't be cut down as timber but the communities can benefit from the fruits of the trees),” he added.
ISFP aims to assist families generate income through the use of appropriate upland technologies while protecting the environment. (PR)