ENVIRONMENT group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS) criticized the move of the city council to amend the Watershed Management Code.
In a statement, IDIS executive director Mary Ann Fuertes called the proposal “anti-environment and contrary to the strategic direction of the City on sustainably managing its watersheds.”
Second district Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang authored the proposal, which seeks to reduce the WMC’s role in issuing “official policies on the expansion of commercial/corporate plantations in the prime agricultural areas.”
“Why does he want to limit the WMC from doing its job of protecting the watersheds? Wouldn’t it be best to have our watersheds covered with flourishing forest cover instead of pesticide-intensive plantations? May I remind that councilor that our drinking water, which the city is very proud of, is dependent on a healthy watershed ecosystem,” said IDIS executive director Ann Fuertes.
The endangered Philippine eagle, along with other endemic threatened species of plants and animals, is also dependent on a thriving forest ecosystem in the watersheds.
Dayanghirang’s proposal also seeks to reduce the WMC’s power to issue clearances in identifying environmentally critical areas and also limits its role in evaluating the approval and denial of zoning exemptions and reclassification of prime agricultural areas in the watersheds.
Fuertes said that “it is ironic because while our Watershed Code is being studied and replicated by policymakers and stakeholders nationwide because of its pro-active provisions in sustainable watershed management, our councilor seems to take a backward step in trying to revise this.”
Fuertes called on the stakeholders to become vigilant and prevent any moves towards weakening the Watershed Code.
“Now that the city is growing, we need to make sure that our environmental legislations are strengthened, not weakened so that Davao does not become like the other cities in the capital region which are overdeveloped and have only now begun to adopt stringent environmental policies.”
The Watershed Management Council is the policy-implementing body of the Watershed Code. Chaired by the City Mayor, the WMC meets monthly to monitor the implementation of the Code. (Yas Ocampo/Mindanao Times)