Release of Marikina Watershed fund sought

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La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga), a development policy research and advocacy nongovernmental organization, called on the government to quickly release funds for the rehabilitation of the Marikina Watershed to prevent disasters similar to that caused by Tropical Storm “Ondoy” in 2009.

In a statement, La Liga said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) should give “premium” to the rehabilitation of the Marikina Watershed, which is a protected landscape.

Under the 2012 General Appropriations Act, the government budget for soil conservation and watershed management is P378 million. La Liga is pushing for a budget of P250 million just for the rehabilitation of the Marikina Watershed.

This is part of the think tank’s efforts to make the annual national budget more “climate sensitive,” La Liga managing director Roland Cabigas said.

Cabigas said that Marikina Watershed is already a protected landscape, known as the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape (UMRBPL).

The UMRBPL covers a total area of 26,125.64 hectares in the city of Antipolo and in the municipalities of Baras, Rodriquez, San Mateo and Tanay, all in the province of Rizal.

These areas were severely affected by massive flashfloods triggered by Tropical Storm Ondoy on Sept. 26, 2009.

Included in the list of endangered species found in the Marikina watershed are forest trees like narra, red and white lauan, bagtikan, kamagong and molave; while the wild fauna include birds like the Philippine bulbul, black-naped oriole and jungle fowl; mammals like the Philippine deer, wild pig and the Philippine monkey; and reptiles such as the monitor lizard.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Business for Social Progress (PBSP) said in a separate statement that it has partnered with the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF) in saving the Marikina Watershed.

To rehabilitate the watershed and mitigate the threat of future flooding, PDRF launched a multi-sectoral campaign that aims to reforest an additional 34 percent, or 9,520 ha, of the degraded areas, PBSP said.

Since 2010, PBSP has been spearheading the livelihood component of the project by providing income-generating activities to sustain the livelihood of the communities and assure that no economic activities would harm the watershed.

Apart from this, PBSP said, member-companies have adopted their own hectare to manage in the watershed.

PBSP member companies that are already part of the Adopt-a-Hectare program include Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., All Transport Network, and Brother International (Philippines) Corp., the organization said.

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