LAOAG CITY – At least 30 villages near the Bislak River in Ilocos Norte on Wednesday received almost PHP3 million worth of livelihood aid from Harbor Star Shipping Services Inc., tapped to dredge around 26 kilometers of the heavily silted waterway.
Barangay San Nicolas village chief Paul Anthony Dalere of Vintar town is thankful that his village is among the recipients of the dredging contractor’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) project and social development plan for 2023 to 2024.
During the inauguration of the Bislak River restoration project held in Barangay Buyon, Bacarra town on Wednesday, Dalere’s village received fattening cattle valued at PHP50,000, two heads of doe worth PHP18,000, and a buck valued at PHP15,000.
“We are glad to have this kind of CSR project on top of dredging our river, which is expected to mitigate flooding. We hope that in the years to come, our livestock production will increase to benefit more of our constituents,” Dalere told the Philippine News Agency.
Ilocos Norte provincial administrator Yvette Convento-Leynes, who heads the Provincial Quarry Office, said officials of the recipient villages were the ones who identified the CSR project.
“In the first three years of dredging operation, from 2023 to 2025, the host municipalities of Bacarra and Vintar shall receive around PHP3 million each in CSR projects. These include the provision of livestock, fish cage and fingerlings with feeds, first aid kits and medicines, mangrove plantation development, agri-inputs, and medical equipment among others,” she said.
Aside from the CSR projects, Leynes said host communities will also benefit from the guaranteed local revenue share from the collection of extraction fees.
The dredging and river restoration project has the go signal of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, which issued DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2020-07.
Under the DAO, companies with technical and financial capabilities may apply for a dredging clearance for this particular project with the DPWH.
It states that the private contractor will be tasked to shoulder all the expenses for the dredging operation in exchange for whatever minerals it may recover, provided it pays the required national and local taxes.
Under the revenue-sharing agreement, 40 percent of the amount will go to the host villages while the city and provincial governments will receive a share of 30 percent each.
According to the dredging contractor, the project will start from the mouth of the Bislak River in Bacarra and move 26 kilometers upstream to Vintar town for a period of 10 years.
Ilocos Norte Governor Matthew Joseph Manotoc assured the surrounding communities that they will get livelihood boost while the extracted sand and gravel will contribute to the development of the province.
“As host to many government projects, we will source locally and make sure that development is guided in the right direction. Harbor Star is fully aware of the partnership,” he said. (PNA)