DENR to look into Marikina River reclamation project
MANILA, Philippines — An artificial embankment being installed by a private company owned by a lawmaker and former mayor near Marikina River might have contributed to the massive flooding in nearby areas at the height of Typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco), Mayor Marcelino Teodoro of Marikina City said on Sunday.
In a phone interview, Teodoro said he would file an administrative complaint against BF Corp., which is owned by Marikina Rep. Bayani Fernando, for pursuing the reclamation project without an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
He clarified, however, that he was not blaming Fernando for the recent flooding, but maintained that the project needed an ECC before an alteration or development was implemented in the area.
“This could just be a minor contributory factor, but I think every aspect of the problem should be explored. The problem is very complex,” Teodoro said.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said the DENR would look into the complaint of the Marikina City government over the project. “Definitely, there should be no reclamation,” he said in a statement on Sunday.
Teodoro said BF Corp.’s project on the river easement had caused flooding in Sitio Olanday, Barangay Industrial Valley. Residents there experienced knee-deep flooding during previous typhoons, he said, but during the onslaught of Ulysses, the floodwaters swallowed their homes entirely.
The mayor explained that the alignment of Marikina River was narrowed by as much as 30 meters from its original width of 100 meters, and, citing accounts of residents, soil was being dumped by BF Corp.’s trucks, decreasing the river’s water carrying capacity.
“The corporation applied for a permit to build a gas station and a school in the area, but [the local government] could not grant them this because they needed to show an ECC. They did not have that,” Teodoro said.
Road dike project?
In a television interview, however, Fernando said the mayor could be referring to a road dike project being overseen by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
“We are actually building the road already according to new plans for the river. Marikina River will have roads on each side stretching from Pasig [City] all the way to Montalban [in Rizal province],” said Fernando, who served as Marikina mayor from 1992 to 2001.
But Teodoro countered that the DPWH had already denied Fernando’s claim and that the department was not in charge of any reclamation project near Marikina River.
After consulting with the DENR, Teodoro said he found out that the installation of the artificial embankment was not approved by the department and that BF Corp. was not granted an ECC “because they were lacking in requirements.”
Cimatu said he had instructed the DENR-National Capital Region to look into the reclamation and the reported nonissuance of the ECC, as well as the retaining wall that was reportedly built along the riverbanks.
“If you build a retaining wall there, the water current will be slowed down and the flow of water in the river will be narrower,” he said.
The DENR is scheduled to measure Marikina River’s carrying capacity on Monday and compare it with its previous levels, Teodoro said.
“We will look into the old river and how [it] became narrow through the years,” Cimatu said. “We could increase the volume capacity of the river by implementing the easement law.”
He said the DENR would assess the changes in the river’s width based on data from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority.
Under the Philippine Water Code, or Presidential Decree No. 1067, the banks of rivers and streams in urban areas should have an easement of 3 meters.
Cimatu noted that the Marikina City government had already approved an ordinance that would increase the easement to 40 meters on both sides of the river.
Following the recent flooding that swept across Marikina City recently, Cimatu recommended the widening of the Marikina River to increase its flood-carrying capacity. He saw the narrow channels along the river during his visit to the city on Saturday.
—With reports from Nestor Corrales and Jhesset O. Enano
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