CAGAYAN DE ORO -- An official of the environment agency appealed for the upgrading of the city’s drainage system and river dikes amid the onset of heavy rains.

Engineer Osin A. Sinsuat Jr. of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) in Northern Mindanao said Cagayan de Oro has not upgraded its drainage system since 1964.

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Disaster risk reduction measures, like improving the drainage system and river dikes, help mitigate the effects of natural calamities, like the flooding that confounded Cagayan de Oro and neighboring provinces early last year, Sinsuat said.

MGB is closely monitoring riverbank settlements that are prone to flooding, Sinsuat said, noting that most of these areas experience inundations every 15 years.

The DENR is also enlisting the help of riverbank dwellers in helping to promote for the protection of the river ecosystem.

"So, we sustain the advocacy to educate the river settlers to really take care of the river, and not to throw garbage anywhere, as it is one factor causing flood," he said.

"We conduct seminar-workshop designed to promote ecological awareness," he added.

Illegal mining

Sinsuat also acknowledged the rampant illegal mining activities in upland villages as major disaster risks that should be addressed.

The DENR is also working closely with the Philippine National Police in controlling the hydraulic mining in Dansolihon and other hinterland areas that are connected to the Iponan River, he said.

The environment official said illegal mining in hinterland villages remains unabated and, in fact, is only getting worse.

"Illegal mining in Barangay Dansolihon, for example, has doubled in terms of size," he added.

Sinsuat said the local government unit must enforce the laws as it is in a better position to do so.

He also called on local officials to act on the illegal activities.

"At the very least, they (local officials) can join our meetings in our effort to monitor the (affected) areas," Sinsuat added. (Nicole J. Managbanag of Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)