PES law for watershed seeks compensation for water use

Tamugan River has been identified by the DENR as Class A, meaning it is suitable for conventional water treatment. This invaluable natural water resource will serve as a lifeline for Davaoeños, providing them with essential drinking water through the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project.
Tamugan River has been identified by the DENR as Class A, meaning it is suitable for conventional water treatment. This invaluable natural water resource will serve as a lifeline for Davaoeños, providing them with essential drinking water through the Davao City Bulk Water Supply Project. Apo Agua

THE proposed Payment for Ecological Services (PES) ordinance aims to establish a compensation system for users of the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed. According to a representative from Amnesty International Philippines, individuals or entities utilizing the watershed's water resources will be required to provide monetary compensation.

Atty. Romeo T. Cabarde, vice chairperson and Board of Trustees member, stated that the collected fees will be allocated towards the conservation and protection of the Panigan-Tamugan watershed. 

Under the proposed ordinance, Davao City Water District (DCWD) customers will pay through their monthly bills, while non-customers will pay directly to the City Treasurer’s Office.

Tourism activities utilizing Davao's water will incur environmental fees, contributing to the conservation fund. Cabarde, from Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy (Apila) and a Sustainable Davao Movement (SDM) member, indicated proposed charges of 25 centavos per cubic meter for DCWD-connected individuals and 50 centavos for commercial establishments. Discussions with the water provider are ongoing, with an estimated collection of about P6.25 per household monthly.

The payment aims to support restoration, conservation, and protection efforts for the vital Panigan-Tamugan Watershed. Cabarde, in a media interview on Tuesday morning, June 4, 2024, at the Sanguniang Panlungsod, underscored its significance as the region's lifeblood, necessitating proactive measures to mitigate risks.

“To ensure na naay pondo magamit ang tribung Ovu Manuvu sa pagprotekta sa pag protekta sa atoang Panigan-Tamugan we thought of the PES as a scheme to gather that amount (To ensure that the Ovu Manuvu tribe has the funds to protect the protection of our Panigan-Tamugan, we thought of the PES as a scheme to gather that amount,” he continued. 

Allocation of collected funds includes 80% for conservation efforts, 10% for green advocacy, and 10% for operational costs of the Ecological Services and Water Protection Council. 

Roy Sandad, a barangay kagawad, emphasized the importance of financial support for environmental protection, particularly for the Indigenous community tasked with safeguarding the watershed.

“Ang panawagan namo nga ang kaning pakigbisog angay nga supportahan (We urge everyone to support this endeavor),” he said. 

Councilor Pilar Braga, the committee chairperson on education, science, technology, arts, and culture, introduced the ordinance on World Environment Day, underscoring its innovative approach to environmental governance and its recognition of indigenous stewardship, equitable benefit sharing, and community empowerment.

Braga urged the City Council to address threats facing the Panigan-Tamugan Watershed, including deforestation and pollution, emphasizing the need for collective responsibility in safeguarding this essential ecosystem. 

The ordinance passed its first reading and was referred to the Committee on Environment for further deliberation. RGP

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