BALAOD Mindanaw and other CSOs join Archbishop Antonio Ledesma in urging Pnoy for creation of the CDO River Basin Management Council and the declaration of CDO River Basin as a Protected Area

February 6th, 2016 | by Balaod Mindanaw

As typhoon Sendong left the country, it left thousands of people homeless, took hundreds of lives and sadly still counting.

The irresponsible exploitation of water shed forests brought weakness of the capacity of the city to hold enormous water load hence spilling of water unto the villages and the city, washing out lives, homes and communities.

Ahead also lays rehabilitation plans for infrastructure, economy and definitely the environment. Rehabilitation is definitely not the end as it will be a continuing challenge on how to prevent similar situation which left Cagayan de Oro and the nearby cities and municipalities devastated.

In line with this challenge, the Interim Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council and Multi-Sectoral Relief Organizations, through Archbishop Antonio Ledesma, presented a resolution to Pnoy during his visit to Cagayan de Oro on 20 December 2011.

The Resolution calls for the President to make priority the creation of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council which will be taking the lead for the Protection and declaration of Cagayan de Oro River Basin as protected watershed area.

RESOLUTION URGING PRESIDENT BENIGNO C. AQUINO, III TO CREATE THE CAGAYAN DE ORO RIVER BASIN MANAGEMENT COUNCIL FOR THE PROTECTION AND DECLARATION OF CAGAYAN DE ORO RIVER BASIN AS A PROTECTED WATERSHED AREA

We in civil society groups and local government units of Cagayan de Oro City and its neighboring towns remind ourselves and our communities never again should we be made to undergo the horrors and wraths of rampaging rivers that claimed many lives as Typhoon Sendong swept past the city last weekend.

We maintain that the devastation it caused was the result of irresponsible and wanton exploitation of our watershed forests, leading to river siltation which reduced the city’s capacity to hold enormous water load.

We firmly believe that the residents of the affected communities, non-government organizations, and the national government now take immediate steps to prevent further deterioration of the river basin and to reduce future risks of disasters in the affected areas.

We reiterate the need for our people to be informed about the real situation of our river basin and to be educated on the effects of small-scale and large-scale mining, deforestation, and poorly-planned urbanization on the environment and on the communities. We demand that our local government units and the national government coordinate with each other and waste no time in carefully tracing and purposively analyzing the causes, both primary and contributory, of the siltation of the Cagayan and Iponan rivers and the flooding in the surrounding areas.

We enjoin our President, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, to take the lead and to prioritize this matter of completing the River Basin Plan. In particular, we ask President Aquino to mandate the immediate coordination among responsible agencies and officials for the finalization of such plan. We urge that President Aquino create a River Basin Management Council which is to follow through on the implementation of the said River Basin Plan. This includes the declaration of a watershed protected area according to the specifications of local geo-hazard maps.

We also encourage the President to certify as urgent the pending legislative measures in Congress regarding the creation of the said River Basin Management Council and to implore the members of Congress to hasten the passage of such bill into law, which is tied to the adaptation strategy which is embodied in the national climate change action plan which the President signed last November 24, 2011.

We implore President Aquino to be firm in his resolve, not only to help the victims of the catastrophe but, more importantly, to address the root causes thereof and to make sure that those accountable persons and entities could no longer cause further damage in the future.

We resolve to participate and to assist the government in overcoming this grave situation and in moving the City forward. We assure our national leadership that our support for efforts to protect our river basin and the lives of our fellow citizens are as strong as our spirits which were embattled but have remained unbroken despite the raging storms. We are hopeful that together with our leaders, we shall never again be caught unaware and that, henceforth, we will protect our rivers so that these will continuously help sustain and not curtail lives.

Signed this 19th day of December 2011 for the Interim Cagayan de Oro River Basin Management Council and Multi-Sectoral Relief Organizations.

Signed

+Antonio J. Ledesma, S.J., D.D.
Archbishop of Cagayan de Oro