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Parties ink Cagayan River rehab

The rehabilitation of the Cagayan River will soon commence after the memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and two operator-dredgers was signed earlier today. 
The MOA on the Cagayan River Restoration Project was signed by DENR Cagayan Valley Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn C. Bambalan and Great River North Consortium Managing Head Antonio Talaue, and President Feng Li of Riverfront Construction Incorporated.
It can be recalled that in 2017, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte directed the dredging of heavily silted rivers in the Philippines including the Cagayan River, the country's longest and biggest river.
Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu issued on February 27, 2020 DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2020-07 rationalizing dredging activities in heavily silted river channels in the country to help restore their natural state and water flow and reduce flooding, and to protect and properly manage the disposition of sand.
The DAO also requires a holder of an approved dredging clearance to apply for an authority to dispose extracted material from the River Dredging Zone through MOA with the DENR Regional Office. It further states that in order to open up heavily-silted river channels, areas starting from the coastline of river deltas extending all the way upstream, in accordance with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Dredging Master Plan, shall be designated as exclusive River Dredging Zones by the Interagency Committee (IAC).
For Cagayan River, the IAC has approved the River Dredging Plan covering 30.8 kilometers as River Dredging Zone.
Director Bambalan, vice chair of the IAC on the Restoration of the Cagayan River, assured that the dredging activities to be undertaken will be at no cost on the part of the government. “The proponents will be shouldering all the expenses related to the dredging activities,” she said.
The regional environment chief said Cagayan Gov. Manuel Mamba on June 8, 2020 submitted to DENR Secretary Cimatu his intent to undertake river restoration through dredging activities and the same was approved by the DENR on June 16. 
“The Interagency Committee ensures that all activities pertaining to dredging will be as compliant as possible to all the requirements imposed by the government particularly in ensuring environmental consideration in terms of dredging,” Director Bambalan said adding that all the requirements were met such as the issuance of Dredging Clearance by the DPWH and the Environmental Compliance Certificate by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
In his message, Gov. Mamba, IAC chair, said the project “is a dream come true” for the province of Cagayan. “Matagal na nating pangarap ito…We should dredge the Cagayan River to mitigate flooding in the region. We should also dredge the river to open our port, port of Aparri, which closed because of the heavy siltation of the Cagayan River,” he said.
“Napakalaking tulong at napakalaking oportunidad nito para sa ating lahat. We can be connected to our neighbors up north who are ecomonic tigers of Asia. We need them and they need us,” Gov. Mamba added.
As stated in the MOA, the DENR shall conduct survey of non-metallic and metallic resources in the River Dredging Zone to determine metallic and other valuable materials in economic quantities. It shall also monitor the operation of the operator-dredger to ensure faithful compliance with applicable environmental laws, rules and regulations.
The Great River North Consortium and the Riverfront Construction Inc. shall undertake the project without any funding from the government and bear the full cost of the project including the disposal of the dredged materials; and shall not process dredged materials and shall dispose the same outside the Philippine territorial jurisdiction. They shall also report to the DENR any and all findings of precious metals or objects which they may inadvertently come across which may be of local or national interest.
During the MOA signing, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Director Mario Ancheta issued the certificate of accreditation to the two companies as dealer, trader and/ or retailer of minerals/mineral products and/or by-products. The accreditation is solely for Cagayan River Restoration thru dredging and shall be valid for a period of two years.
The MOA signing was witnessed by Gov. Mamba, Director Ancheta, EMB Regional Director Virgilio Edralin Licuan, Amelia Ann Chan Sin and Bing Tiu Gatchalian of Great River North Consortium, and Keryl Danisse Li and Diosdado Balmes Jr. of Riverfront Construction Inc..#


DENR Execs inspect Cagayan river

Top officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) inspect today the Cagayan River along the Magapit Narrows in Lallo, Cagayan.
DENR Undersecretaries Analiza Rebuelta-Teh, Jonas Leones and Juan Miguel Cuna, and DPWH Undersecretary Roberto Bernardo personally inspected the site which was identified by the Build Back Better Task Force as priority for rehabilitation following the flooding in the province in November. The Magapit Narrows is the area where water flow is constricted causing the retardation of the flow of floodwater thereby prolonging inundation of water in the floodplains.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has earlier ordered the immediate dredging of the sandbars starting at the Magapit Narrows.
The DENR in the region is currently conducting assessment for easement recovery simultaneous with the survey of the sandbars by the DPWH through third party surveyors.
Prior to the site visit, the national officials had a dialogue with Gov. Manuel Mamba where the latter reported update on the status of the Cagayan River Restoration Project.
Gov. Mamba is the chair of the Interagency Committee (IAC) on the Cagayan River Restoration Project created by virtue of DENR Administrative Order 2020-07 issued by Secretary Cimatu on February 27, 2020.
In the meeting, DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn Bambalan who is the vice chair of the IAC said the MOA signing between the DENR and the two operator-dredgers is scheduled on December 10.
Joining the visit and the meeting were DPWH Regional Director Loreta Malaluan, DENR Assistant Regional Director Marcos Dacanay, Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Director Mario Ancheta, Environmental Management Bureau Regional Director Virgilio Edralin Licuan, Cagayan PENR Officer Ismael Manaligod, Isabela PENR Officer Marlon Agnar, and Cagayan Provincial Administrator Darwin Sacramed.#


Envi Chief orders suspension of FCF’s tree cutting, closure of SSM in Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya


Tuguegarao City, Cagayan- Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu ordered the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Region II to temporarily suspend the tree-cutting activities of FCF Minerals Corporation’s Gold- Molybdenum Project in Brgy. Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya.

He also ordered the Bureau to close down all small-scale mining activities in hazard prone areas in Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya where 10 casualties were reported due to the fatal landslide incident in the area brought by the heavy downpour of Typhoon Ulysses.

Cimatu further recommends to identify possible Minahang Bayan areas for displaced small-scale miners to a safer place to ensure their safety and to prevent another tragic incident.

“Identify an area that is safe for them and for the environment,” Cimatu cited.

He also asked the MGB Regional Chief Engr. Mario A. Ancheta to install signages in hazard prone areas for the awareness of the people in the community. – Lyndee Rose Basilio


MGB: Runruno landslide tragedy is not result of mining


Tuguegarao City, Cagayan- A team of geologists and technical personnel from Mines and Geosciences Bureau Region II conducted a site inspection at the recent landslide areas that claimed the lives of 10 individuals including a two-months old baby and injured two others which is brought by the onslaught of Typhoon Ulysses on Nov.11.

DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn C. Bambalan and MGB Regional Director Mario A. Ancheta led the inspection at sitios Bit-ang and Kinalabasa in Brgy. Runruno, Quezon, Nueva Vizcaya on Nov. 18 which are within the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) area of the Gold-Molybdenum Project of FCF Minerals Corporation.

According to MGB Regional Director, based on the result of the geohazard assessment, sitios Bit-ang, Balcony, Compound, and Kinalabasa are highly or critically susceptible to natural hazards and residents are recommended for relocation.

On September 2018, MGB conducted a geohazard assessment and result showed that sitio Bit-Ang is highly susceptible to hazard being highly critical to flooding and landslide. “The result of the assessment was presented to the community including the residents of sitio Bit-ang, Compound, Balcony, and Kinalabasa,” the MGB regional chief said.

Director Ancheta said that regardless of the mining activity, the areas have very high susceptibility to landslide.

Based on the recent assessment of the area, “the fatal landside was triggered by the inclement weather conditions resulting to ground saturation and eventual landslide and not due to small scale mining activity as earlier reported, “Director Ancheta said.

He added, “evacuation of the illegal settlers within the landslide prone areas should be strictly implemented.”

Director Ancheta also reported that despite the compensation offered by FCF, some families refused to vacate as they are not satisfied to the amount that the company offers.

The MGB geohazard study recommends for evacuation of the illegal dwellers and settlers as the area has very high susceptibility to natural hazards. – Lyndee Rose S. Basilio


DENR, MGB inspect landslide areas in Nueva Vizcaya

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Officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and Local Government Unit (LGU) of Quezon in Nueva Vizcaya inspect the landslide areas that claimed the lives of 10 individuals at the onslaught of the heavy downpour brought about by Typhoon Ulysses on Nov. 11.

DENR Regional Executive Director Gwendolyn C. Bambalan, MGB Regional Director Mario A. Ancheta, and Mayor Dolores Binwag led the site inspection on Nov. 18  following the fatal landslides at sitios Bit-ang (Lower), Bit-ang (Upper) and Kinalabasa, all in Barangay Runruno which is within the Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA) area of FCF Minerals for its Runruno Gold Molybdenum Project.
The area, according to the MGB regional chief, is geo-hazard prone with a very high to critical susceptibility to landslide and flooding based on the geo-hazard assessment conducted by the bureau in 2018.
In the meeting, Director Bambalan requested the LGU and the mining company to conduct inventory of families residing in the area and to identify where they can be safely relocated.
Mayor Binwag said residents in the area come from the provinces of Quirino, Ifugao, Benguet and nearby towns, and some of them are engaged in illegal small-scale mining operations.
“If we want to save lives, we have to look for a safer area. It is about their safety and their family,” Director Bambalan said as she committed the DENR through the provincial environment and natural resources (PENR) office to assist the municipal local government in looking for resettlement area.
She added: "The area being a timberland should be devoid of settlements unless with permits or tenurial instrument issued by the government thru the DENR. Illegal occupation is punishable under Presidential Decree 705 or the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines."
Per report of lawyer Jener C. Puguon of FCF Minerals, the company have settled over 215 land claims from a total of 407 landholder claims after several negotiations. Others however refused to vacate as they are not amicable to the amount of relocation compensation that the company offers.
A dialogue with the residents will be held on Nov. 26 with representatives of DENR, MGB, municipal and barangay LGU, and Philippine National Police to present government regulations and resettlement plans.
The site inspection was also attended by PENR Officer Edgar T. Martin, PNP Provincial Director Ranzer Evasco and Runruno Barangay Captain John Babliing.#