The Philippines Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), recently held a meeting to define guidelines for the dredging projects in three lahar-clogged river systems – Bucao, Maloma, and Sto. Tomas – in Zambales Province.
Representatives from MGB, Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and other local and national government agencies, as well as dredging operators from Zambales Province were present during the consultative meeting.
Various concerns were raised during the open forum, including the suspension of dredging operations, loss of revenue as a result of the former concern, and human health risk due to exposure to lahar.
As a result of these concerns, commercial utilization of minerals and river restoration of the three river systems were also discussed.
During the discussion, Atty Analiza Teh, Undersecretary for Climate Change Service and Mining Concerns (DENR) said that the current system, which requires dredging operators to send their dredging plans to DPWH, is not effective in restoring the river systems.
However, under the proposed Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) on the Guidelines on the Issuance of Clearance and/or Permit of Dredging, DPWH will be the one providing the dredging plan for operators working in the same river system.
Dredging operators will only submit a work program in accordance to the dredging plan.
She also assured everyone that the government is one with the stakeholders in addressing their concerns, and to be successful, economic growth and environmental management must be in equilibrium. She urged everyone to cooperate in order to solve the pressing concerns being faced by the dredging industry.