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After the multi-sectoral convergence meeting for Magat watershed governance conducted in November last year, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) met yesterday to set institutional arrangement among concerned government and private stakeholders for the rehabilitation and management of Magat Watershed.
At the NIA Command Center in Diliman Quezon City, NIA Acting Administrator Eddie Guillen, DENR Cagayan Valley Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan, Acting Municipal Environment and Natural Resources Officer Sotivo Pagulayan III of local government unit (LGU) Ramon, Isabela and other officials of the two agencies and local government discussed the plans of NIA Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (MARIIS) and DENR to further improve the management of Magat Watershed.
With an area covering about 414,300 hectares, the Magat Watershed was declared Forest Reservation Area by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 573 on June 26, 1969. A Letter of Instruction (LOI) No. 1002, s. 1980 was also issued authorizing the NIA to manage, protect, develop, and rehabilitate the 15,000-hectare watershed area.
During the meeting, RED Bambalan raised development issues concerning the protection of said watershed. “Considering the huge area of the watershed, collaboration and partnership among agencies and local government units is important to enlist stakeholders' functions and responsibilities and ensure sustainability of the reservoir and protection of the watershed,” RED Bambalan emphasized.
The regional environment chief requested for the status of the 15,000 hectares, part of the watershed directly draining to the reservoir, and clarified that per LOI issued, the NIA is entrusted to manage and protect the said area.
The lady director also told the new administrator about the proposed regional Memorandum of Agreement (MOA ) between and among the NIA, DENR and LGU Ramon per agreement during the convergence meeting. This aims to update previous agreements and incorporate the stakeholders’ roles and mandates to ensure a holistic environmental and climate-responsive partnership.
“Revisiting the existing MOA signed between DENR and NIA in 2019 relative on the management and development of all critical watersheds will espouse stronger collaboration and partnership among government agencies and institutions,” the regional environment chief appealed adding the 15,000 hectares Magat watershed areas as focus in the execution of the MOA.
The management scheme on coverage of NIA and National Power Corporation on area awarded indicated in the LOI were discussed. She requested the commitment of NIA as to the management of said areas to be defined in the MOA.
Meanwhile, Engr. Guillen sees the potential of agro-forestry and eco-tourism projects that would provide sustainable source of income to the local communities within the watershed area. He suggested to plant fruit-bearing trees with market value in the area as additional source of food and income for the people.
“We strengthen the partnership of NIA with national and local government, private sector, non-government organizations, Irrigators Associations, and the public towards the success of this endeavor,” the irrigation top official underscored.
In the meeting, Conservation Development Division Chief Enrique Pasion presented developmental projects of the Department within the watershed area and other critical watersheds supporting NIA irrigation facilities such as Enhanced National Greening Program, Forestland Management Project, Build Back Better Task Force, and Forest Protection.
He included the operationalization of the Cagayan River Basin wherein one of its accomplishments was the newly passed Regional Development Council Resolution No. 02-05 s. 2022 entitled "Adopting the Proposed Measures to address the use of herbicide in Upland Corn Farming," duly approved by RDC Chairperson and Isabela Governor Rodito Albano III.
He also presented the result of comparative analysis of land cover change within the Magat watershed using the land cover map of NAMRIA from Calendar Years 2010, 2015 and 2020.
CENR Officer Edmundo Malupeng presented the result of the conducted assessment within Magat watershed particularly on activities undertaken by some occupants including the inventory of fish cages and operators within the reservoir, while For. Jose Bueno Jr. of the CDD presented the result of water quality monitoring within the magat reservoir conducted by the EMB R2 last November.
The meeting was also attended by NIA Deputy Administrator for Engineering and Operations Sector C’zar Sulaik, MARIIS Department Manager Gileu Michael Dimoloy, MARIIS Dam and Reservoir Division Manager Carlo Ablan, NIA Central Office Department Managers, and other DENR officials.
In order to fully discuss the watershed implementation plan, a Regional DENR-NIA Meeting is scheduled on Feb. 9, this year, in Ramon town to include the LGU and Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Region 2.
The meeting aims to determine the respective responsibilities of each agency or organization that will be incorporated in the joint Memorandum of Agreement to be signed by concerned parties.#