THE GOVERNOR of Cagayan, one of the areas hit hardest by the recent series of typhoons in the Philippines, on Thursday called on national government agencies to act on longstanding recommendations to avert flooding by protecting the Cagayan River.
“This has been our perennial problem and this is the cause of poverty and destruction in Cagayan,” Governor Manuel N. Mamba said in a statement.
The flooding problem, he said, is “man-made” and widespread such that the provincial government alone could not address the contributing factors to the repeated disasters.
The Cagayan River Basin, located in northern Philippines, is the biggest in the country with an area of 27,493.49 square kilometers. It traverses nine provinces across three regions, based on data from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The river empties out into the Babuyan Channel through Aparri town in Cagayan.
“We suffer the most,” the governor said.
He said one of the immediate actions that can be taken is to desilt the Magat Dam, one of the river’s main tributaries.
Other issues that require long-term and multi-sectoral solutions are extensive deforestation and changing climate patterns.
The Cagayan River Basin covers 10 critical watersheds. It is also home to five declared protected areas. Its ecosystem supports some 700,000 hectares of farmland, more than half of which are planted to the staple rice.
In February 2021, the DENR formed an alliance with 22 national government agencies to continue the river’s rehabilitation under what it called a “Build Back Better” program.
“Let us hope that what this administration has started to build back better, the mighty Cagayan River will be built upon by the next administration,” then DENR chief Roy A. Cimatu said during the alliance signing ceremony.
In the wake of this year’s worse flooding and landslide incidents, Mr. Mamba said stakeholders across northern Luzon need to sit down and earnestly discuss the implementation of solutions. — MSJ