THE Abacan River and Angeles Watershed Advocacy Council Inc. (Araw-ACI) recently lauded Mayor Carmelo Lazatin Jr. for initiating a strong stand to protect the 560-hectare Sapangbato watershed.
Lazatin earlier asked the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) to entrust to the city the management of the former military reservation land so it can be developed into a protected forest park and watershed.
Renato Tayag Jr., president of Araw-ACI, said Lazatin's initiative will strengthen the advocacy for the protection and development of the Sapangbato watershed.
"Mayor Lazatin's action supporting the advocacy to protect the local water sources and to ensure the sustainable supply of water in Angeles and Metro Clark is indeed commendable. For a decade now, several private sector groups have been planting trees at the Sapangbato watershed and out of the 560 hectares, we were able to cover 100 hectares. But since the area is under BCDA and part of the former military reservation land in Clark, the equally crucial action is for it to be declared as a protected area," Tayag said.
In November 2020, Araw-ACI presented the Sapangbato watershed rehabilitation and development project to BCDA Senior Vice President Engineer Joshua Bingcang. The latter has agreed in principle that there is a need to protect the area and to prevent further developments that would compromise the watershed. Bingcang said they will conduct a technical survey and study early this year to jumpstart the project.
Tayag said that should BCDA entrusts the management of the area to the Angeles City Government, the rehabilitation and development of the forest park and watershed can be facilitated.
"All other components of the rehabilitation and development of the Sapangbato watershed will be easily implemented with the help of Mayor Lazatin and the local government. The government should spearhead the legal and bureaucratic actions while the community and the private sector can help in the reforestation and information campaign components," he said.
He also acknowledged the efforts of the City Council for passing a resolution supporting Lazatin's call for stewardship of the 560-hectare land.
Araw-ACI and Lazatin started discussing shared goals of protecting Angeles City's water sources and reservoirs days after he won the 2019 elections.
Tayag said Araw-ACI fully recognizes the mayor's sincerity in championing the call for the Sapangbato watershed rehabilitation and development.