LGUs should regulate land use practices in CDO River catchment, expert says

MALAYBALAY CITY (Bukidnon News/28 January) Local government units must regulate land use practices with more than 80 percent of Cagayan de
Oro River’s catchment area no longer forested and had been placed in
the hands of private owners, former Department of Environment and
Natural Resources- 10 regional director Raoul Geollegue said.

Geollegue told Bukidnon News tropical storm Sendong’s 187 mm rains
that brought flashfloods to Cagayan de Oro is gone but not the city’s
recipe of disaster.
He said the LGUs must exercise its police power over the use of land
in the area.

“It’s time to work to mitigate, time to break our head as the terrain
and the basin is designed to exterminate people,” he said after he
offered his inputs in the management planning session of the Mt.
Kalatungan Range and Natural Park last Friday.

He added that the recipe of disaster, the area’s steep and high
elevation of the ridge and slopes made it possible for water to gather
volume and force with one outlet only, the Cagayan de Oro River.

Geollegue said more than 80 percent of the river’s 177,000 hectare
catchment, unfortunately, is already alienable and disposable land.

He said the stakeholders in the area are left with no choice but to do
mitigation work.

Geollegue said only about 12 percent of the area is forested covered
by three protected areas including Mt. Kalatungan and Mt. Kitanglad as
he defended that blaming Bukidnon alone is futile.

“Blame the whole catchment area. What can a small area do when there
is no control in the rest of the bigger area?” he added.

“Blame also the agricultural plantations who do not use proper land
management system,” he added.

Geollegue pushed for proper slope management prescribing that slopes
must be equipped with multilayer vegetative protection and rivers
should have forest cover.

“Every square inch of the land should be attended to considering the
magnitude of the catastrophe,” he added.

Felix Mirasol, chief of the Provincial Environment and Natural
Resources Bukidnon, said the challenge for stakeholders in Bukidnon is
to plan out what kind of interventions they wanted to do in the area
before those from other places would dictate on them and lead to

“Bukidnon should start responding now,” he added.

He cited among the stakeholders as the DENR, NCIP, LGUs, the
indigenous peoples and the public in general.

But he cited the role of the indigenous people who consider the area
as their ancestral domain.

He said gone are the days when it is the experts alone who are the
sources of knowledge on environmental protection.

“Experts cannot solve it. If you want real work to start, go to the
people up there. They know what to do,” he added.

He emphasized the role of planning in the long and hard work for
sustainable development. (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News)


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