Marikina mayor seeks Marikina Watershed rehab to prevent metro floods

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 17 2020 03:05 PM

An aerial photo of the balding portion of the Marikina Watershed in 2017, captured by then Environment secretary Gina Lopez. Gina Lopez

MANILA – Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro on Tuesday called for the rehabilitation of the Marikina Watershed following severe flooding caused by Typhoon Ulysses this month, in scenes reminiscent of unprecedented flooding brought by Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009.

“I think we should seriously look into this matter and laws should be properly implemented,” he told ANC’s “Matters of Fact”. 

“Quarrying activities in the upstream area at the Marikina River should also be stopped at least in this point in time and be properly regulated," he said. 

Under Proclamation 296 issued in 2001, the Upper Marikina River Basin Protected Landscape in Rizal was declared a protected area, but land grabbing, illegal logging, and quarrying activities haven’t halted despite its status. 

The watershed could have absorbed rainwater, which reduces the risk of floods in downstream cities like Marikina, conservation advocates had previously warned.

Teodoro also called for effective weather forecasting and continuation of public works such as flood-control projects.

“The utilization of funds should be diverted for mitigation and preparedness, not simply for relief and rehabilitation,” he said.

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Battered by frequent storms and other hazards, the mayor also urged the national government to put climate crisis at the center of policymaking.

“We should address this issue now. Not rhetorically or mere pronouncement but there should be a statutory framework that would comply everybody to provide programs and activities to address the effects of climate change,” he said.

Under his administration, Teodoro said they had implemented a multiyear dredging project in the Marikina River to address the floodwater coming from upland Luzon.

However, he noted that the whole river system in Luzon had to be rehabilitated, which includes the desilting of Laguna de Bay, to avoid disastrous floods in the future.

“Our call really is for an integrated approach. A whole of government approach so we could effectively collaborate and address the problems brought about by climate change,” he said.

For him, there is also no need for the creation of a new task force that will address disasters.

“Creating another task force will divert or simply put away the obligation mandated to the particular agency concerned,” he said.

“Let us optimize the capacity of the existing agency. A task force would be I think simply on an interim phases, transitory lang pero ‘yung effect ng climate change is something permanent, fixed. Solutions [should be] on a long term basis.”

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