CAGAYAN RIVER PROTECTION. In a bid to heighten the protection of the Cagayan River, Isabela Gov. Rodolfo Albano III, Regional Development Council chairperson and co-chair of the Cagayan River Basin Management Council (CRBMC), has urged the member-agencies and institutions to continuously support the projects implemented within the Cagayan River Basin (CRB).

“We only have the council as an opportunity to address issues besetting the Cagayan River Basin and we cannot just be complacent. We cannot fail our constituents and it is our duty to make this body functional for it to be successful,” Gov. Albano said during the CRBMC meeting held recently.

            In her message, DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn C. Bambalan requested to unify the actions of CRBMC and Build Back Better Task Force (BBBTF) as these both aim to protect the Cagayan River.

            “We will integrate in the next meeting the recommendations of the BBBTF in terms of the river protection to better formulate policies in the implementation of the six thematic areas of the CRB,” RED Bambalan added.

            Implemented in Regions 2, 3 and Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), the meeting was held to discuss the development of various programs and activities in accord of the Integrated Cagayan River Basin Management and Development Master Plan (ICRBMDMP).

             Through the implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP) in the three regions, a total of 223,083 hectares were developed and planted with forest species within the CRB  from 2011 to 2020.  This includes the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP) implemented in CAR and the Forestland Management Project (FMP) in Regions 2 and CAR.

            In support of the BBB initiatives of the government, a total of 21,056 bamboo species were planted in 81.68 hectares along the riverbank and other denuded areas in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino.

            As part of enforcement and regulatory program, forest protection activities were intensified through the activation of barangay brigades and conduct of Lawin patrol and monitoring in all identified illegal hot spot areas. Forest protection officers were hired and dispatched to assist in the counter surveillance operation and seaboard patrol.

            To achieve sustainability and in support of building local capacities in disaster preparedness and resilience, the Comprehesive Land Use Plan, Forest Land Use Plan, Local Climate Change Action Plan, and Comprehensive Development Plan were formulated, updated and adopted in all local government units (LGUs) of the three regions covering the CRB.

             The formulation and updating of the 10-Year Ecological Solid Waste Management Plan and construction of Sanitary Landfill of the LGUs are also continuosly monitored.

            Infrastructure facilities such as flood control, evacuation centers, Small Water Impounding Projects and diversion dams were constructed. Also, currently undertaken are the relocation sites for affected families living in hazard-prone areas and due to the easement recovery and retrieval delineation being done along the Cagayan River.  These are located in Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya; Nagtipunan, Quirino; and Baggao, Amulung, and Enrile in Cagayan.

               To restore the physical condition of coastal areas and enhance fish production, the Balik Sigla sa Ilog at Lawa (BASIL) and Eel Enhancement Campaign were strengthened. Fish sanctuaries in the provinces of Cagayan, Isabela and Quirino were also monitored.

The CRBMC is an implementing body to oversee the overall implementation of its six major thematic areas, namely; Watershed Management; Water Resources Management; Disaster Risk Reduction and Management; Wetland Coastal and Freshwater Resources Management; Economic Development; and Institutional Management.#