Bill seeks creation of body to protect Sierra Madre range
MANILA, Philippines — People remember the importance of the Sierra Madre only during typhoons because the mountain range — stretching from Cagayan Valley up to Quezon province —blunts their impact.
Isabela Rep. Faustino Dy IV pointed this out on Tuesday in his sponsorship speech of House Bills No. 1214 and 1972, both of which seek to protect the 540-kilometer range from deforestation.
Recalling the several super typhoons that hit Luzon in recent years, Dy said in Filipino: “Mr. Chairman, maybe we know the importance of the Sierra Madre, and we know that, if not for the Sierra Madre, maybe the effects and damage would have been worse than what we had.
“That’s why, Mr. Chairman, as sad as it may be to think about it, we only remember the Sierra Madre when it break up the super typhoons in Luzon. So it’s time Mr. Chairman, that we provide a permanent agency to take care of it.”
Earlier, the House Committee on Government Enterprises and Privatization was conducting a hearing on the bills, both calling for the creation of a body to protect the Sierra Madre
HB No. 1214, which was authored by Dy, calls for the creation of the Sierra Madre Conservation and Development Authority.
HB No. 1972, which was authored by Rizal Rep. Juan Fidel Nograles, calls for the creation of a Sierra Madre Development Authority.
Whatever the name, the agency is supposed to protect the Sierra Madre from deforestation, which environmental experts believe would make a dent in the ability of the mountain range to weaken tropical cyclones, around 20 of which hit the Philippines every year.
Most of these cyclones come from the Pacific Ocean and move towards the eastern side of the country.
Under Dy’s bill, the Sierra Madre authority would be assigned to study the mountain range and survey its potential while ensuring that its ecology would be preserved. It would also be allowed to collect regulatory fees for any activity that may be done on the mountains.
During the earlier hearing, the panel passed a consolidated version of the bill, with none of the lawmakers present opposing it. Several possible amendments were also suggested, including calls to involve barangay officials in taking care of the mountain range.
Similar bills had been filed in previous years.
In 2020, Nograles also filed one aimed at preventing floods in Rizal and the adjacent Metro Manila cities of Marikina and Pasig.
Floodwaters from Rizal’s upland usually flow down to low-lying areas through the Marikina River system, including the Upper Marikina River Basin which is part of the mountain range.
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