Unauthorized Aklan River Dredging Stopped

The Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has stopped dredging operations on the banks of Aklan River, which were carried out without the required permits from the DENR and the local government.

PNA news agency reported that the DENR on Tuesday swooped down on a 50-ton Chinese boat conducting dredging activities along the river. The boat, identified as “MV Zhong Hai 18” was contracted by STL Panay Resources Co. Ltd. (STLPRCL) to dredge shallow parts of Aklan River.

According to DENR Undersecretary Arturo Valdez, the contractor of the dredging project failed to secure permits from the DENR to ensure the safety of the operations.

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez immediately ordered the NAECTF to link up with Aklan DENR officials upon learning of the dredging activities of the vessel through a letter sent to her by Kalibo town Mayor William Lachica,” said Valdez.

He also noted that around 1,200 cubic meters of sand materials were discovered inside two of the boat’s six compartments by the DENR and the multi-sectoral monitoring team during a surprised inspection on January 23.

The dredging project, which is an offshoot of the massive flooding caused by Typhoon Frank in 2008, faces strong opposition from residents who are worried that it might result in further erosion of the riverbanks.

Valdez clarified that there was no go signal coming from monitoring team and the DENR to proceed with the project as STLPRCL has yet to comply with the requirements set by the Department of Public Works and Highways.

Part of the requirements was to secure clearances from the monitoring team and concerned local DENR offices.