Following massive flooding in the towns in his legislative district, a congressman from Rizal on Saturday reiterated his call for the creation of a government body tasked to oversee the rehabilitation of the Sierra Madre range that protects Metro Manila from winds and the accompanying floods brought by typhoons.
Deputy Majority Leader and Rizal Rep. Fidel Nograles said there was “a critical need to put up a government body to oversee, manage, and care for the 500 kilometer-long Sierra Madre Mountain Range in order to protect the biodiverse area’s forest cover and prevent flooding in several areas in Luzon.”
Nograles represents the Second District of Rizal, two towns of which—Montalban and San Mateo—sustained destructive floods from waters coming from Sierra Madre.
Typhoon flooding in eastern Metro Manila all the way to towns in the Cagayan Valley “emphasize the importance of taking concrete steps to care for the Sierra Madre mountain region,” Nograles said.
“The mountain really has a big impact during weather disturbances. The increased frequency and severity of flooding in areas close to the Marikina River, as well as in towns in the Cagayan Valley are attributed to the loss of Sierra Madre’s forest cover––and we can no longer ignore this,” Nograles said.
“There is clearly a need to provide this vital mountain range with further safeguards and protection while finding ways to responsibly develop part of the range not under its Protected Areas,” he added.
House Bill 5634, filed by Nograles last year, creates the Sierra Madre Development Authority, tasked, aside from protecting the mountain range, with adopting “a wholistic approach to enhance development of indigenous resources of the Sierra Madre region to its fullest potential for economic development in order to raise the standard of living of those residing in the area.”
The bill tasks the SMDA to:
• conduct a comprehensive survey of the physical and natural resources of the Sierra Madre region and the draft a comprehensive plan to conserve and utilize the said resources in order to promote the region’s social and economic development
• provide the machinery for extending the necessary planning, management, and technical assistance to prospective and existing investors in the region
• provide recommendations to the proper agencies regarding the financing and technical support to be given to agricultural, industrial, and commercial projects
• assess and approve all plans, programs, and projects proposed by local government offices/agencies within the region related to the development of the mountain range
• plan, program, finance and undertake infrastructure projects such as river, flood, and tidal control work, waste water and sewerage work, dams and water supply, roads, irrigation, housing and related work
• undertake studies on the conservation, improvement, exploration, development, and maintenance of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range
Nograles pointed out that the wide area covered by the Sierra Madre mountain range and the importance of the region “requires coordination that cuts across various LGU jurisdictions and numerous departmental concerns.”
“The SMDA will ensure coordination and cooperation among all these, resulting in a coherent and comprehensive strategy that will protect the Sierra Madre’s forest cover while allowing for sustainable development.”