Volunteers collect face masks, plastic waste along Panigan-Tamugan Watershed

Photo credit to Idis
Photo credit to Idis

AMID the issuance of regulations and policies, local environmental groups were alarmed with the recent recovery of disposable face masks and plastic wastes along Panigan-Tamugan Watershed during a clean-up drive recently.

In a Facebook post on Friday, August 13, Interface Development Intervention for Sustainability (Idis) said their group and Bantay Bukid Volunteers collected 80 disposable masks, 36 plastic cups, cigarette packs, one bottle of fungicide, and a large number of various sachets of shampoo, junk foods, and detergents along the watershed.

Idis Executive Director lawyer Mark Peñalver told SunStar Davao on Sunday, August 15, that the number of wastes collected is higher than the previously conducted river clean-up in July. He said the facemask count was only 21.

This is despite the recent Watershed Management Council (WMC) resolution, prohibiting trekking activities in watershed areas in the city, while recreational activities in these areas will be regulated.

These are Resolution No. 3 - A Resolution Declaring that Trekking Activities are Prohibited in the Watershed Areas of Davao City; and Resolution No. 4 - A Resolution Adopting the Proposed Guidelines on the Conduct of Recreational Activities Within the Watershed Areas of Davao City and Forwarding the same to the Sangguniang Panlungsod.

Prior to the two resolutions, WMC released a resolution in 2020 mandating barangays within watershed areas to strictly regulate recreational activities within their territorial jurisdiction.

The WMC resolution was made into an ordinance, which was passed on Tuesday, August 10.

The "Watershed-Conservation Area Protection Ordinance of 2021," authored by Councilor Diosdado Mahipus Jr., committee chairperson on the environment, regulating recreational activities within the watershed areas of the city for the protection, conservation, and preservation of the natural environment.

"However, same scenario gihapon. In fact, nitaas pa. Based sa atong interview with the Bantay Bukid, every Saturday and Sunday, daghan gihapon daw gihapon tao ang nagaligo sa Panigan-Tamugan na area," Peñalver said.

(However, it is still the same scenario. In fact, the wastes recovered increased. Based on our interview with the Bantay Bukid, every Saturday and Sunday, many people still go to the Panigan-Tamugan area to swim.)

Peñalver said they commended the actions of the city government for making the appropriate actions. The area remains unregulated and unmonitored.

He said the city should strengthen its mechanisms in regulating the entry of people to the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed.

"Karon, sa atong nakita, wala pa'y ingon ana nga lakang nga gibuhat. Except sa mga nakapa-skill nga mga ginabawal. Siguro kailangan pa og active na role na buhaton ang city government kung gusto gyud nato protektahan ato watershed," the Idis official said.

(Based on what we saw, there are no actions that have been made. Except that they posted signage on the prohibited items within watershed areas. Maybe the city government should play a more active role if they want to protect the watershed.)

He added that deploying police personnel within the watershed as the area is also reported to be a drinking area despite the existence of the 24-hour liquor ban in the city.

The environmentalist said they are alarmed with the recent wastes recovered as these are made from long-lasting materials that, if discarded, will survive for hundreds of years in the environment.

He said the turnout of improperly disposed of solid wastes in the next source of water in Davao City is an issue that needs urgent solutions.

"I think the city government should ensure the protection of these areas from any kinds of pollution. Be it plastic pollution, wastewater pollution, or chemical-based pollution," Peñalver said.

He also reminded the public to be "responsible and accountable" in the preservation of natural resources.


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