During the 11th Davao Watershed Stakeholders' Summit 2023, Atty. Janis Louis H. Esparcia, assistant city administrator for operations, underscored the importance of Dabawenyos playing a role in safeguarding the city's watersheds.
She emphasized the need to be vigilant amid the El Niño phenomenon and encouraged awareness about watershed areas, proper waste disposal, water conservation, and reporting illegal activities.
“We are still calling the support of Dabawenyos to do their part in protecting our watershed areas in light of the El Ñino phenomenon that may affect our water supply,” Esparcia said in her State of the Watershed Address during the 11th Davao Watershed Stakeholders' Summit 2023, on Thursday morning, November 23, at the Bapa Benny Tutud, Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU).
She acknowledged the city's measures, including the Watershed Code of Davao City (the Davao City Ordinance 0310-07) and the creation of the Watershed Management Council (WMC), to address violations near critical watersheds.
However, challenges persist, such as illegal structures, tree cutting, illegal settlements, unpermitted business operations, illegal mining, and inadequate waste treatment facilities.
“The City of Davao through its Watershed Management Council has already taken steps to address these problems, there were already inspections conducted, cases filed in court, notices of violation issued in cases of illegal structures, and meetings with other national agencies such as the DENR and the NCIP with regards to the implementation of the laws about the protection of watershed areas,” Esparcia said.
Davao City Councilor Temujin “Tek” Ocampo, the chairperson of the committee on environment and natural resources of the 20th City Council, underscored in a media interview the shared responsibility between the government and Dabawenyos.
“We always take the gobyerno sala, na kita pod mga katawhan unsa pod ang share natu, one thing ana kianang sigeg baha unang-una dili natu pamutlon ang kahoy sa bukid (We often place the blame solely on the government, but as citizens, we also have a role to play. One crucial aspect, especially in addressing floods, is our collective responsibility not to cut down trees on the mountainside),” Ocampo said.
He emphasized citizen responsibility in waste management, urging discipline and the importance of educating younger generations on proper waste disposal. He acknowledged the government's limitations and stressed shared responsibility.
The Davao Watershed Stakeholders' Summit 2023, led by the WMC, in collaboration with the Local Government Unit (LGU) and non-government organizations (NGOs) such as the Philippine Eagle Foundation (PEF), Interfacing Development Interventions for Sustainability (Idis) and Euro Generics International Philippines (Egip), aims to address challenges faced by the city's watersheds. The event seeks to solicit strategies and facilitate dialogue for sustainable protection.
It will highlight multi-sectoral initiatives in protecting the Davao River Basin (DRB) from Bukidnon Province and Davao City stakeholders. RGP