Villar twits DENR over dismissive remark on importance of Marikina watershed | Inquirer News

Villar twits DENR over dismissive remark on importance of Marikina watershed

/ 03:39 PM December 10, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Cynthia Villar on Thursday lectured the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during a Senate hearing for issuing statements that seemingly dismissed the importance of protecting the environment, like the Marikina watershed.


The presentation of the DENR during the hearing of the Senate Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Change read that: “If all urban development and quarrying are stopped and the Marikina Watershed are fully planted with 10-year old mature trees, it will require 9 times the area of Marikina Watershed to absorb all the water during Typhoon Ulysses.”

This, however, did not sit well with Villar, who chairs the committee.


“Ipagpalagay nang napakalakas ng Ulysses. Pero sana sinabi niyo na lang na the protection of the watershed, tapos maglalagay tayo ng ibang programa doon, we can solve that problem even if malakas ang ulan,” she said.

(Let us say that the Typhoon Ulysses was really strong. But you should have said that we will add more projects for the protection of the watershed and we can solve that problem even if the rain is heavy.)

“Hindi niyo sasabihin na kahit i-protect ‘yun, hindi kaya ‘yung Typhoon Ulysses. Na-shock na naman ako sa inyong department eh, kasi parang sinasabi niyo na pabayaan na lang kasi hindi kaya,” she added.

(You should not say that even if we protect the watershed, it cannot mitigate the flooding caused by Typhoon Ulysses. I was shocked with your department because it seems you were saying we should just let it be because we cannot handle the flooding.)

DENR’s Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MRB) director Wilfredo Moncano explained to the committee that Typhoon Ulysses has dumped a huge volume of rainwater, “so the entire Marikina watershed, even when it’s fully planted, cannot absorb the water.”

Environment Sec. Roy Cimatu further said that the DENR is committed to protecting the watershed.

“The worst-case scenario po kasi yung Typhoon Ulysses, so nagcompute compute sila na regarding volume of water na bumagsak dyan sa Marikina,” he said.


(Typhoon Ulysses was the worst-case scenario, so they computed the volume of water that the typhoon has dumped in Marikina.)

Villar, however, pointed out that such a statement should not come from the DENR.

In airing her frustration, she also recalled a supposed statement from another DENR official who said that suspending quarrying operations in the watershed would delay development projects in Metro Manila.

“I am always telling them not to make those kinds of statements because you are a department which is supposed to protect the environment. You let all the other departments say that but not you. Because you are justifying all the destruction of our environment,” said the senator.

DENR should not make any kind of statements like that as if you’re saying that we should not protect [the watershed]. It’s the same as saying we should not protect the Marikina watershed because it cannot stop flooding in Marikina. It’s an indirect way of justifying all those they are doing in the Marikina watershed,” she further noted.

Senator Risa Hontiveros, who was also present in the hearing, shared the sentiment of Villar.

“Madame Chair, ‘yung logical conclusion ng statement nilang ‘yun (of that statement) would be let’s just sacrifice the watershed in order to proceed with so-called development projects, when in fact the protection of the watershed will protect our cities and urban areas which will enable our development programs to succeed,” Hontivero said, addressing Villar. — Zac Sarao, trainee


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TAGS: Cynthia Villar, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Marikina, Marikina watershed, Quarrying, Risa Hontiveros, watershed
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