Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Massive mangrove planting in Bulacan coast mulled

HAGONOY, Bulacan—Hammered by devastating storm surges, the coastal area of this fishing town will soon get its need protection.

This came as the Provincial Government of Bulacan gear up for massive mangrove planting before the end of the year.

The said mangrove planting will follow the planned tree planting activities on the eastern part of the province.

Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado said plans have been laid for the massive tree and mangrove planting activities in the province.

He said that tree planting is set to be implemented this rainy season.

Target areas for tree planting includes watershed and river banks, especially the more than 50 kilometer stretch of the Angat River that drains to the Manila Bay.

He said that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources have already pledge more than 30,000 seedlings to be planted in the province as part of the implementation of the National Greening Program (NGP).

Additional seedling will be supplied by the provincial government and non-governmental organizations.

Alvarado noted that aside from different species of bamboos that will be planted along river banks, they will also plant fruit bearing trees.

For the coastal areas of Bulacan, they will also conduct massive mangrove planting to serve as barrier of coastal communities from devastating effects of storm surges.

As former mayor of this town, the governor specifically mentioned its coastal area which has been reclaimed by the sea in the last five years.

“Malaki na ang nasisirang mga palaisdaan sa Hagonoy dahil sa storm surge,” he said noting that it is one of the impacts of climate change.

Earlier, Mayor Raulito Manlapaz of this town vowed to rehabilitate over 1,000 hectares of fishpond on the coast of this town which were washed out.

Manlapaz’s move came after residents of the coastal villages of Pugad and Tibaguin here reiterated their call after the onslaught of typhoon Glenda.

The residents noted that about 60 houses in the two villages were totally damaged by storm surge spawned by typhoon Glenda.

They also stressed that six year ago, storm surges are unknown to them because at that time, dikes of the more that 200 hectares municipal fishpond fronting the Manila are still intact.

However, the said fishpond was abandoned by its operator and its dikes were washed out by waves in the years that followed.

Today, the coastal villages of Pugad and Tibaguin are usually bear the brunt of storm surges when there is typhoon.  Dino Balabo

Saturday, March 22, 2014

ANGAT DAM: Inconvenient truths

Angat Dam as seen from Hilltop observation deck.   DB 

You probably heard it before and question s nagged your mind. Below is an attempt to explain situations that surround the long awaited proposed Angat Dam rehabilitation.  Please click the link below and have fun reading...

PromdiNEWS: ANGAT DAM: Inconvenient truths:

Text messages and rumors has been spreading in Bulacan about a massive flood ...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Yolanda influenced operationalization of Green Fund

MALOLOS CITY—If there was any positive effect coming from super typhoon Yolanda, it would most surely be the operationalization by 2014 of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC).

Speaking to journalists at the sidelines of the Climate Change Consciousness Week conference at the SM Convention Center on Tuesday, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda said Yolanda (international name, Haiyan) has put more pressure on representatives to the recent 19th Conference of Parties (COP) held in Poland to implement the GCF.

“At least $14 billion will be operational by next year,” said Salceda, the elected co-chair for the GCF Board. He disclosed that European countries like Germany, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom (UK), and Australia
have expressed interest in putting the initial donations.

The GCF, Salceda explained, was first conceived in the COP held in Copenhagen in 2009 wherein developed nations were asked to contribute a total of $30 billion per year from 2009 to 2015; and $100 million from 2015 to 2020.

However, the GCF was not put into operation until it was formally created in Cancun, Mexico where the COP16 was held in 2010. The following year, the GCF was finally formed in Durban, South Africa. Salceda said operationalization of the GCF can be finally approved in the United Nations’ General Assembly (UN-GA) by September 2014.

“It is good news in itself, because it means that we are moving forward,” said the governor who also spoke during a parallel workshop on climate change for journalists. When asked by PromdiNews if the said fund can be availed of for victims of Yolanda, Salceda said that it is open for developing countries to address risks of climate change.

“GCF is an instrument of the family of nations to enable developing countries in performing their functions in adaptation and mitigation, so hindi lang sa calamity, risk based yan,” he said. At present, the GCF board is finalizing requirements for accreditation of countries interested in availing the fund.

In an earlier statement, Lawyer Mary Ann Lucille Sering, secretary of the Climate Change Commission of the Philippines, said the “the swift operationalization of the Green Climate Fund is critical to helping developing countries adapt to and cope with the worsening impacts of climate change.”

Sering added that “we are committed to exercising leadership and ensuring the essential requirements are fulfilled by September 2014 so money will start flowing to countries that are in need and most vulnerable.

Many of our countries have put in place policies and domestic financing strategies to make our economies resilient, rebuild communities better and in a transformational manner – but we need international support to help us bridge the gap and make this transition towards climate-resilient low-emission development.”

The GCF’s purpose is to make a significant contribution to the global efforts to limit warming to two degrees Celsius by providing support to developing countries to help limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and to adapt to the unavoidable impacts of climate change.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Bulacan board vowed to pass dam safety ordinance

MALOLOS CITY— The Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Bulacan vowed to pass a land mark ordinance on dam safety in an attempt to protect millions of residents and hold dam operators accountable.

This came as similar law linger in Congress since November 2011 and still to be acted upon by lawmakers who are beleaguered by the pork barrel scam.

Vice-Governor Daniel Fernando said that until a law is ratified, Bulakenyos are not protected by misoperation of dams and no one will be held accountable.

“We will pass an ordinance on dam safety that will help identify specific guidelines in dam operations, and accountable persons in case of misoperation,” he said in vernacular during a regular session of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan of Bulacan.

Fernando said that once ratified the ordinance will serve as basis on holding dam operators responsible.

The same was echoed by Board Member Felix Ople, the chair of the Environment Committee of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan.

He said that in 2011, the provincial government led by Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado warn to file a class suit against officials of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) which manages the Angat Dam.

This is due to severe flooding that Bulacan suffered after typhoons Pedring and Quiel barreled through the province in September and October that year.

However, warning of Alvarado did come through.

Ople said that in the future, the planned dam safety ordinance with provincial government an artillery in running after accountable persons.

Some members of the Sangguniang Panglalawigan expressed concerned if a provincial ordinance will be taken seriously by national agencies operating dams in the province.

They cited concerns on jurisdiction, but Board Member Ernesto Sulit, they have to try.

Other said that in the absence of a national law governing dam operations, a provincial ordinance will be enough.

Earlier, Engineer Roderick Dela Cruz, a dam safety expert based in the United States stressed in his presentation before the Sangguniang Panglalawiga the importance of dam safety legislation.

He said that while there is House Bill filed in Congress on dam safety, a parallel ordinance can be enacted because it takes a while before Congress ratify a law.

Dela Cruz expressed concern on the imminence of another calamity in the province noting that local dams like the Angat, Ipo and Bustos are under designed.

As lead dam safety engineer of the Southern California Edison who manages 82 dams, Dela Cruz said dams are considered as dangerous installations.

He said in constructing dams, it must be designed to withstand a 1,000 to 10,000 years storm.

“Apparently, Angat Dam and other dams in Bulacan are not designed for a 1,000 year storm,” he said.

Dela Cruz cited repeated release of water from Angat Dams even when there is not storm.

He said, “monsoon rain pa lang, wala pang bagyo nagpapatapon na ng tubig.”

Dela Cruz also scored the absence of funds prepared by dam operators in the country  for regular maintenance, monitoring and management of dam structures.

He said that in the United States, state and federal governments have required dam operators to finance similar activities.  Dino Balabo

Friday, August 2, 2013

Illegal lumbers seized in Bulacan, but no one is arrested

MALOLOS CITY—Intensified anti-illegal logging campaign of the provincial government of Bulacan in the Angat Watershed netted over 20,000 board feet of illegally cut lumbers.

However, no person has been arrested in the week-long campaign initiated by Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado through the Provincial Anti-Illegal Logging Task Force (PAILTF).

The most recent accomplishment of the task force is the seizure of additional 3,857 feet of illegally cut lumber within the Ipo Dam watershed in Norzagaray town last Sunday.

The PAILTF said that they seized over 20,000 board feet of spliced and sawed lumbers within the Angat and Ipo watersheds since July 16 when members of the task force swooped down on the lairs of suspected timber poachers.

However, despite the series of confiscations of illegally cut lumbers, no one has been arrested and no chain saw has been seized.

Bro. Martin Francisco, PAILTF member and founding chair of the Sagip Sierra Madre Environmental Society (SSMES) said their movement has been tipped by cohorts of suspected timber poachers.

“They are getting more sophisticated, well financed and well equipped,” Francisco said referring to timber poachers within the Angat and Ipo Watersheds.

He said that cohorts of timber poachers are using cellular phones to inform timber poachers that the raiding team is coming.

Francisco said that timber poacher were tipped, they just leave the sawed lumber and fled with their chain saws.

In the past, a number of timber poachers has been arrested within the Angat and ipo Watersheds.

By constructions of towers by some telephone companies near the watersheds to widen their coverage has also been utilized and employed by timber poachers.

As this developed, Governor Alvarado vowed to continue the anti-illegal logging campaign to protect the watershed noting that the Angat Watershed is one of the most highly critical watershed in the country.

He also said that the provincial government will conduct seminars for forest rangers and watchers tasked to guard the watershed areas in eastern Bulacan.

The governor reiterated that cutting of trees along the watershed areas of Angat and Ipo  dams are strictly prohibited.

He also said that legal teams are now also studying the cancellation of permits of some sash factories and shops in Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte City which are being suspected of buying the Illegally cut lumbers.

He also lamented that a big part of the forest covers of the watershed area in Ipo dam has already been denuded. (Dino Balabo)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Bulacan Gov bats for climate proofing public schools

By Dino Balabo

MALOLOS CITY—Worried about floods, Bulacan Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado bats for climate proofing of schools in the province to serve as functional evacuation centers during floods.

He also asked the sangguniang panlalawigan to ratify an ordinance for the creation of permanent evacuation centers in flood-prone towns and cities in the province.

Alvarado’s call came after the province suffered floods after the onslaught of typhoons Pedring and Quiel in 2011 and the southwest monsoon rains last year.

“This is very timely, we found out that our functional evacuation centers were also submerged in recent floods,” the governor said in an interview after delivering his first state of the province address in three years.

He said that public schools along with churches served as functional evacuation centers during the flood, but many were submerged and were not utilized.

The governor said that while the Department of Education (DepEd) is completing their counterpart in constructing half of the more than 1,800 classrooms in the province, the Department must make sure that it will not be easily submerged.

The governor also asked the sangguniang panlalawigan to pass an ordinance that will serve as basis for construction of permanent evacuation centers in flood-prone towns in the province such as Hagonoy, Calumpit,Paombong, Guiguinto, Obando, Bocaue, Marilao, Bulakan, and the cities of Malolos and Meycauayan.

As an example, he said that the grounds of Hagonoy West Central School in Barangay Sto. Rosario in Hagonoy town will be elevated to at least one meter above the road.

The campus of the said school used to go under water during high tide, and during floods.

“There must be a dry area where people can evacuate during flood events,” he said and stressed that to provide that, school facilities must be climate proofed when undergoing rehabilitation.

With regards to funding of permanent evacuation centers, the governor said that they will coordinate with local mayors for counterpart funding.

As this developed, he also urged the sangguniang panlalawigan to pass a resolution asking the national government to establish the first National Dam Safety Board, and the revival of the Pampanga River Control System (PRCS) which is tasked to manage river systems in Central Luzon.

The call for the national dam safety board is a parallel move of the provincial government to the proposed National Dam Safety Law authored by Rep. Marivic Alvarado of the first congressional district of the province.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bulacan informal settlers to be relocated soon

BUSTOS, Bulacan—Hundreds of informal settlers living on identified geo-hazard zone along the Angat River will soon be relocated to a resettlement site in this town.

Mayor Arnel Mendoza of this town said that first batch of informal settlers will be resettled within the year.

The National Housing Authority (NHA) established a resettlement housing project in a seven hectare lot at Barangay Catacte here.

The mayor said that at least 80 percent of the 1,166 low coast housing units has been completed.

He said that informal settlers living along the banks of Angat River in Baliwag, Plaridel, Pulilan and this town were identified for resettlement.

For Bustos town alone, Mendoza said that at least 600 families has been identified.

“They are the ones who has been identified by the provincial and municipal government,” he said noting that said informal settlers are usual resident who used to be evacuated when Angat, Ipo and Bustos dams in the province release water into the Angat River.

According to Mendoza, community affairs officers (CAO) the Social Welfare and development office in the province and Bustos has coordinated with the residents for identification and validation of families that will be relocated.

He said that informal settlers offered not resistance.

The same was echoed by Amancio Surigao, Fatima Datiles and Erna Villamor, all residents living under the General Alejo Santos bridge that links this town with Baliwag town.

They said that they have been living under the bridge for more than 30 years and noted that when water on the Angat River is high, they have to evacuate on top of the bridge where they used to pitch tents.

“It’s a good opportunity for us to stay away from danger zone” said 52-year old Surigao in vernacular.

In a separate interview, 32-year old Datiles said she always fear for her three children when water on the river start rising.

She said that during the flood spawned by typhoon Pedring in 2012 and monsoon rains last year, they house was submerge and it made her fearful.

“My children are so young and I have to keep watch over them,” Datiles said.

Like Datiles and Surigao, Villamor welcome the housing project offered by the government in Barangay Catacte in Bustos town.

She said that it is not far from their sources of livelihood, but stressed that they might have problems with their children in going to school.

Villamor said that other families living along the bank of Angat River in Barangay Tibag, Baliwag have children attending nearby schools.

“Its just a walking distance from our house, that’s why we don’t have to worry much about transportation,” Villamor said in Filipino.

Earlier, Governor Wilhelmino Alvarado said that housing project developed by NHA in Bustos town will have school facilities along with a clinic and mini-market.

The said housing project is likely to be expanded to accommodate more informal settlers.

He also disclosed that the NHA is also developing another housing project in Pandi town for other informal settlers in the province.  (Dino Balabo)