DENR to curb encroachment along Cordillera rivers

By Catherine Teves

December 11, 2018, 8:48 pm


MANILA -- The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) aims to enhance disaster risk reduction efforts in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) to better promote public safety.

DENR's CAR office is recommending, to LGUs concerned, demolition of structures encroaching on banks of rivers in the region – including in Baguio City - to protect people in danger areas from harm.

"Based on the Water Code, they're not supposed to be there," DENR-CAR Regional Executive Director Ralph Pablo said Tuesday (Dec. 11) on the side of the 2018 Community-Based Forest Management (CBFM) Practitioners' Congress in Manila.

He said the Water Code requires riverbank easements of 3.00 meters, 20.00 meters and 40.00 meters in urban areas, agricultural areas and forestland, respectively. The required easements are measured from the edge of rivers, he said.

"People must not occupy such easements," he said. He warned rivers may overflow and banks of these waterways may collapse, endangering people encroaching there. Possible onslaught of tropical cyclones with intense rainfall is raising risk for such occurrences, he added.

Pablo said DENR-CAR will submit to the environment department's central office, by Dec. 15 this year, the river clean-up and rehabilitation plan for the Cordilleras. The plan will show extent of encroachment along rivers in CAR, he said.

"If we implement the easement requirements for rivers, many will be affected," Pablo added.

He said DENR-CAR and other agencies will further discuss the matter to better assist parties who will be affected if recommended clearing of river easements in the Cordilleras pushes through.

Pablo said such recommendation is part of target measures to rehabilitate Baguio City.

"The rehabilitation will also include cleaning up water bodies there, mobilizing communities for this work and increasingly informing people about need for solid waste management," he said.

The government is rehabilitating Baguio City to save this mountain resort from further environmental degradation.

Among concerns in Baguio is decrease in greenery due to years of unabated development there.

Loss of trees is causing erosion of soil, much of which ends up in rivers.

Experts warned such siltation reduces rivers' water-carrying capacity and blocks natural drainage, making these waterways overflow faster.

Such overflows flood riverbanks and surrounding areas, they said.

The CBFM Practitioners' Congress recognized people's organizations nationwide for helping government protect and conserve trees and forests around the country. (PNA)