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PIA Press Release

PGMA comes to rescue of Cagayan River Basin; creates management office with P500-M fund

Manila (15 August) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has come to the rescue of the Cagayan River Basin to protect it from further environmental degradation, mitigate destructive floods and harness it for economic development.

To carry this out, the President has issued Executive Order No. 747 creating the Cagayan River Basin Project Management office and defining its scope of authority.

The Cagayan River basin is the country's largest river basin covering parts of Isabela, Cagayan, Mountain Province, Nueva Vizcaya and Quezon provinces. It comprises an area of 25,469 square kilometers and the river flows into a northerly direction from its headwaters in Nueva Vizcaya province to its mouth in the Babuyan Channel near Aparri, Cagayan. The Cagayan River has principal tributaries that include the Magat Siffu-Mallig, Chico and Ilagan Rivers.

Cagayan Valley (Region 2) is now the top producer of rice and grains in the country and increased yield and harvest can be expected with the proper utilization of water resources in the region.

Also, the Cagayan Export Zone Authority (CEZA) is now attracting serious investors and the Cagayan River can be developed as an efficient and cheaper mode of transportation for products and tourists, said E.O. No. 747, adding that the Master Plan on the Philippine Integrated River Basin Management and Development is in line with President Arroyo's ten-point Legacy Agenda and Medium-Term Development Plan.

"There is a need to harness the support of all stakeholders - national government agencies, local government units, local communities/indigenous people, community organizations, private entities and business groups - for the above-stated reasons," E.O. No. 747 said.

It said a Project Management Office similar to the Bicol River Basin Project Management Office with clear accountability will permit the speedy preparation and implementation of an integrated river basin management and development plan for the Cagayan River Basin.

The Cagayan River Project Management Office within the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) shall have the following personnel: project management officer; deputy project management officer; and technical staff seconded from each of the following agencies: NEDA, DPWH, DA, NIA, BFAR, DBM, NWRB, LBP, CEZA and Technical staff recruited from the academe.

The Project Management Office shall have the following responsibilities:

a. Coordinate and, where necessary, initiate and carry out formulation, implementation and monitoring of water and watershed policies, studies, management actions and investment in the river basin consistent with the ecological principle of using the river basin as a unit of management, the institutional principle of stakeholder participation and devolution of action at the lowest possible level and the instrument principle of managing watershed and water resources as an economic good or a scarce resource using incentives and economic principles;

b. Develop a Cagayan River Basin and Watershed Strategies Framework;

c. Organize the implementing structures, establish implementation policies, delegate authorities and responsibilities and call on other government agencies, financial institutions and donors, as needed to undertake basin-wide programs and projects to applicable policies;

d. Establish and maintain structural consultation process at the appropriate executive levels with provincial, city and municipal LGUs, and representatives from people's organizations (irrigators, upland farmers, fisherfolks, water-user associations, indigenous people's groups) and the private sector and civil society organizations based in the Cagayan Valley Region (academe, media, NGOs).

e. Develop a portfolio of LGU projects in the river basin;

f. Support/undertake and/ or coordinate the appraisal and feasibility studies of individual projects;

g. Assist LGUs in the packaging and documentation of their projects for submission to financing institutions;

h. Manage and coordinate the implementation of sub-projects under the River Basin Watershed Management Project;

i. Facilitate the coordination and implementation of activities among the different agencies involved in the management and development of the Cagayan River Basin;

j. Coordinate and plan with the relevant line agencies and LGUs to ensure proper operation and maintenance of the infrastructures in the Cagayan River Basin, including during periods of natural disaster, water scarcity and flood conditions;

k. Collect and manage data and information pertaining to water and land use in the Cagayan River Basin;

l. Administer finance and procurement; and

m. Undertake other duties and functions as may be necessary to perform its mandate.

Funds for the Cagayan River Project Management Office shall be allotted from the P500-million River Basin Control Funds released in 2006. (PIA-MMIO) [top]

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