MANILA — A post of the late environment secretary Gina Lopez calling for the reforestation of the Marikina Watershed in 2017 has gone viral, after Typhoon Ulysses brought massive flooding in areas of the capital region and some parts of Luzon.
Netizens echoed the sentiments of the environmentalist, who emphasized the importance of rehabilitating the Marikina Watershed because it serves as the capital region’s “first line of defense” against rainwater from strong storms.
In her old post, Lopez showed the aerial view of the balding watershed, and blamed its condition to the illegal quarrying activities in the supposedly protected area.
“As long as there is quarrying there and the Marikina Watershed is denuded, the Pasig River water will be brown!! And it will become more and more shallow - and it will cause flooding in Metro Manila!”
Netizens pointed out that the recent flooding in some parts of Metro Manila and in Luzon was a manifestation of what Lopez was trying to explain years ago.
“Listen to recommendations and preventive measures. Be proactive and not just reactive when there’s already a calamity,” a netizen commented on the post.
“And now we experience what she's saying... Kailan pa tayo magigising?” said another netizen.
Some social media users also said it was not yet too late to save the watershed from destruction.
Under Proclamation 296 issued in 2001, the Marikina Watershed Reservation was declared a protected area and was renamed Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape.
It was granted protection under Republic Act no. 7586 or the National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act of 1992. This means the area is “protected against destructive human exploitation.”
In October, conservationists from Masungi Georeserve reported an instance where a group of armed guards working for a private company blocked the site’s personnel from accessing some 1,000 hectares of land by fencing the area.
The fenced off area is part of the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape and the Masungi Wildlife Sanctuary and Strict Nature Reserve, which is a portion of an ongoing restoration project, Masungi Georeserve’s managing trustee Billie Dumailang said.
In an earlier interview with ABS-CBN News, Dumailang emphasized the importance of the restoration project because it is one of the many ways massive flooding, loss of water, and landslides could be prevented.
“Some people think na small violations… are insignificant. They are not, magpa-pile up ‘yan as with the case of just neglecting and abusing the forest. So if we do not put up and force the Masungi Restoration Project, hundreds of people will suffer and die from massive floods, from landslides, the loss of water.”
(Some people think small violations are insignificant, they are not, it will pile up.)