DAVAO CITY – A representative of a civil society organization is strongly opposing a proposal by Councilor Danilo Dayanghirang that will limit the influence of the Watershed Management Council (WMC) in implementing and drafting of environmental legislation.
Civil Society Organization (CSO) representative to the WMC Chinkie Pelino told Mirror that WMC is denouncing the proposal which already passed first reading in the City Council on July 18. The move even puzzled WMC as the item was nowhere in the agenda when they attended the council session last Tuesday.
Pelino said they only found out about the proposal in the records of the City Council secretariat showing the proposed measure passed first reading on July 18.
“We are confused because technically the proposal should be presented during the last session. Wala pud mi nakakita nga naapil siya for first reading last Tuesday. Well, maybe sa session na this week i-present (We did not also see it in the first reading last Tuesday. Well maybe it will be presented in the session this week),” Pelino said.
Pelino said they are now following up the reconstitution of the WMC by Mayor Sara Duterte and assures that the WMC, which is headed by the mayor, will issue a statement against the proposal.
She said the WMC was created by the Executive Department, under the leadership of the city mayor, to ensure the compliance and monitor violations of the Watershed Code.
“They should stop trying to limit the powers of the executive. While the councilors are knowledgeable on legal matters, they should be reminded also that they do not have the monopoly of knowledge and power to decide for the future of Davao City. They should recognize the balance of power between the legislative and executive departments.” she said.
Efforts to get the side of Dayanghirang failed until presstime
Pelino, who is also a coordinator of an environmental group Interface Development Interventions (IDIS), said it is alarming because if the proposed legislation is adopted, all the years of lobbying for a pro-active legislation to protect the city’s watersheds will be invalidated.
Pelino also questioned the intent behind the proposal since there is no reason why the Watershed Code should be amended.
In an emailed statement Pelino said the proposal seeks to delimit the provisions of the Watershed Code particularly on issuing clearances for all forms of undertakings in the conservation, agro-forestry/non-tillage areas declared as Environmentally Critical Areas on the basis of the recommendation of the watershed multipartite monitoring team and the barangay watershed management council
Issue official policies on the expansion of commercial/corporate plantations in the Prime Agricultural Areas based on an in-depth evaluation of its environmental, economic and social implications; and evaluate for approval or denial applications for zoning exemptions and/or reclassification of prime agricultural areas in the watershed
The WMC, as mandated by the Code, has been carefully assessing the proposed projects in the watersheds through its watershed multipartite monitoring teams. It has been diligently conducting ocular visits, reviewing pertinent documents and related laws, as well as meeting with technical persons and experts. This is because we want to issue objective assessments and recommendations towards the sustainable management of watersheds.
She also pointed out that the areas monitored by the WMC are only those identified as critical areas by the Terrain Analysis Study conducted by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 11 with the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO).
She said the Terrain Analysis map showed that some of these critical areas may become geological hazards unless mitigation and rehabilitation measures are implemented. Since some of these are found in watershed areas, the role of WMC is crucial to ensure that these hazards will not affect the biodiversity and the environment.
Pelino said that policymakers should recognize their limits in crafting legislation. She also noticed that this has become an alarming trend in the City Council.
“First, they revive the proposal to delete the additional 10 percent green space provision. And now they are seeking to dilute the Watershed Code. What are they going to do next?” (Maya Padillo/Mindanao Daily Mirror)