Top star-studded military generals witness mayors ink commitment on clean river in Surigao del Sur

Butuan City – Four top-star retired military generals, three of them former AFP Chiefs of Staff, have expressed full support and witnessed on Tuesday the signing of the Statement of Commitment by the five mayors in the eastern part of Surigao del Sur on the protection and preservation of natural resources  at the Mount Hilong-Hilong Ranges that cut across several towns of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur.

The Mayors of the towns of Carrascal represented by Vicente H. Pimentel, Cantilan by Mayor Carla Lopez-Pichay, Madrid by Mary Grace Sulatra –Kimura, Carmen by Jane Valeroso –Plaza and Lanuza by Anilao P. Dawog  have inked their commitment on a two-page statement that seeks to undertake nine (9) courses of actions on four core river basins and waterfalls in their respective domain.

The two-hour program was witnessed by the DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu , a retired Philippine Army general who previously served as the 30th Chief of Staff of the AFP under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, DILG Secretary Eduaro Manahan Año, who previously served as the 48th Chief of Staff under President Benigno S. Aquino, Retired Philippine Army General Hernando Delfin Carmelo ArrezaIriberri who served as the 46th Chief of Staff under President Aquino , and Retired Lt. General William K. Hotchkiss,  the 24th commanding general of the Philippine Air Force  and former Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and currently President of the Cantilan Bank.

In his remark, DENR Secretary Cimatu had stressed the need to sustain clean rivers from  coliform bacteria and garbage waste as possible.

The DENR Secretary also called the attention of the local officials in their respective municipality to take action of the informal settlers that are teeming along the 3-meter easement from the river.  “As possible, there should be no structures allowed along the bank to save and protect the river from possible contamination of domestic wastes thrown by the informal settle”, Sec. Cimatu said.

He also asked the DENR and the LGU officials to conduct immediately an inventory of families living along the river bank and relocate them to a suitable site.

 The two cabinet officials have expressed appreciation to the efforts made by Mayor Pichay in maintaining a clean river and urged the other mayors in the country particularly in Metro Manila to follow the strategies made by the local official in maintaining a clean river in her area of jurisdiction. “We should duplicate the successful accomplishment and actions done by Mayor Pichay in keeping the river clean”, Secretary  Cimatu said.

Secretary Año said the commitment made by the mayors in the preservation and protection of watershed is laudable. Secretary Año also challenged all local officials to consider the efforts of the mayors in Surigao del Sur who bound themselves to sustain clean rivers in their area. “The DILG and the entire agencies under it, affirms its support to the Statement of Commitment towards the Sustainable Management and Use of the watersheds and water resources in their municipalities.

The nine courses of actions which the mayors in Surigao del Sur have committed to take action included 1. The consolidation of four core river basins and waterfalls covered by PD 1747 as one “physiologic unit”; 2. Develop a more effective local policy framework and institutional mechanism for managing watersheds and water resources sustainability; 3. Enact and enforce policies and ordinance to protect, defend and conserve our watershed; 4. Mobilize and generate adequate resources by utilizing the increased share of LGUs from the national taxes; 5. Seek support from the DENR to designate the four core river basins as one single Water Quality Management Area (WAQMA); 6. Ensure the creation of people-oriented, multi-disciplinary, and ecosystems approach to watershed governance and management; 7. Work towards the declaration of all critical watershed areas (source of irrigation, domestic water, mini-hydroelectric power, ecotourism, agriculture and those classified as geo-hazard areas) as NO GO ZONES ; 8. Seek support from the DILG to ensure the commitment of all local government units towards the designation, creation and operationalization of the WAQMA; and 9. Institutionalize the allocation of special appropriation by the local government units for the full operation and management of the WAQMA as common development agenda for the five involved municipalities.###

The event was participated also by DENR 13 Regional Executive Director Atty. Felix S. Alicer, EMB 13 Regional Director Engr. Albert G. Arcamo, the five PENROs of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur and the Dinagat province and CENR officers.

Earlier the two cabinet officials have visited the tourist belt in General Luna, Siargao Islands to impose the demolition of the establishments that violated the legal easement zone required by the DENR regulations at the beach and coastlines to be free from obstacles and structures as access zone for the people bathing and enjoying at the beach.

By: Herzon F. Gallego


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