The sustainability of the whole-of-government efforts to rehabilitate the Cagayan River is assured following the signing of the joint memorandum of agreement (MOA) by the Regional Build Back Better Task Force (RBBBTF).
 
In the first anniversary of the Cagayan River Restoration Project on February 2, the heads of the different government agencies in Region 2 composing the RBBBTF have agreed to continue their commitment and perform their responsibilities to “bring back a better Cagayan Valley; a community that is economically better, safe, and more climate-resilient.”
 
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan and Regional Director Loreta Malaluan of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), task force chair and co-chair, respectively, led the signing of the MOA with Department of Human Settlement and Urban Development Regional Director Grace de Vera, Office of Civil Defense Regional Director Leon Rafael Jr, Department of the Interior and Local Government Regional Director Jonathan Paul Leusen Jr., and Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Regional Director Winston Singun.
 
These key officials lead the six key result areas of the BBB initiatives. They were joined virtually by other member-agencies.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, in his keynote message, thanked and commended the member agencies under the task force as he looks forward to their continued support.
 
“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,” he enthused.
 
During the event which was also graced by Cagayan Valley Task Force Head and DENR Undersecretary Benito Antonio de Leon, the accomplishments of the lead agencies for better and resilient infrastructure, stronger shelter and resilient settlement, improved systems and essential services, restored sustainable livelihood, strengthened governance thru broad-based citizen input, and intensified environment and natural resource management were presented.
 
“We take pride that despite the challenges that we have to face especially the COVID-19 pandemic, the Regional BBB Task Force has successfully achieved its commitment for Calendar Year 2021,” RBBBTF chair Bambalan said.
 
The regional environment chief has also acknowledged the full support of the provincial and municipal local government units to the Cagayan River restoration initiatives.
 
“Our DENR Secretary has emphasized that the restoration of Cagayan River requires long term solutions and thus, sustained and collective efforts from all of us are necessary,” she underscored.
 
The Cagayan River Restoration project was launched last year in Brgy. Bangag in Lal-lo, Cagayan through a ceremonial dredging of the Magapit Narrows led by then DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, and bamboo planting along the riverbanks spearheaded by Secretary Cimatu.
 
The removal of sandbars at the pilot site was completed in July with a total of 374,000 cu.m. dredged. The DPWH is now removing the sandbars in Brgy. Dummun, Gattaran town. These sandbars are priority sites for immediate dredging as these obstruct the floodwater flow to the Aparri Delta and to the Babuyan Channel.
 
To stabilize the riverbanks, a total of 585 hectares were planted with bamboos and indigenous species by the DENR and the local government in 14 municipalities where the Cagayan River and major tributaries are located.#