By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Negros Occidental provincial government expressed their support for the declogging and desilting project in EB Magalona along the Imbang, Madalaga, and Malogo Rivers. Through desilting, materials that may obstruct the flow of water are extracted from the riverbed, which is expected to reduce the risk of flooding. Provincial administrator, Atty. Rayfrando Diaz, yesterday said, with other coastal localities expressing interest in similar projects, a department administrative order was issued mandating the provincial government to undertake such projects.
“During the rainy season, flood waters could not go out because of sandbars that trap water between the inland and the sea,” the provincial official stated. “This is common all over the world, even in the United States.”
Diaz said past administrations purchased dredging machines, which he said were “hard to maintain and sustain,” and noted, dredging projects are too expensive for local government units to undertake
With the EB Magalona project being spearheaded by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Public Works and Highways, and Department of Transportation, he said the project will come at no cost to the municipal and national government.
The provincial administrator added, “Materials that will be dredged will be brought to reclamation projects in other areas.”
Environmental groups earlier came out against the project following a public hearing.
Fr. Ernie Larida, who represents the Green Alert Network, called local politicians “unprofessional” and “unethical” after allegedly attempting to dismiss organizations seeking transparency during the public hearing.
In addition, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement claimed dredging activities and black sand mining are both unlawful practices in the municipality.
“There is no mention of the extraction of black sand,” Diaz said in response. “No hazardous waste or chemical compound will be done associated with mining.”
“All sludge must be removed and put on a barge,” he added. “There will be no deposit left in the inland areas.”
Meanwhile, the provincial administrator said they plan to enact an ordinance to regulate the issuance of extraction permits.
“Under the proposed measure, the Capitol will charge P2.50 per cubic meter and transport permit of these waste material at P2.50 per cubic meter,” Diaz explained. “There is also a monitoring fee pegged at five percent of their gross income.”
Last month, EB Magalona Mayor Marvin Malacon led a public consultation regarding the project, which will impact nine coastal barangays as a means to reduce flooding.
The meeting, which was attended by local officials, along with representatives from DENR and TeraDev Corporation, the private contractor in charge of the project, identified the areas in question as Barangays Latasan, Tuburan, Tomongtong, Gahit, Madalag, Mantaangan, Batya, Alicante, and Pasil./DGB, WDJ