The dredging of the Cagayan River–an ambitious endeavor launched Tuesday–could show its positive impact to the region in time for this year’s typhoon season.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu mentioned this during his keynote speech at the event in Lal-lo, Cagayan.
“Today we are on a mission to reduce the perennial flooding of the region of Cagayan Valley. During our Cabinet meeting in December, the President himself approved the widening of the Magapit Narrows (part of the river) and the removal of 19 sandbars in Cagayan River,” Cimatu said.
“Aabutin ito ng taon (It might take years), several years probably that we will be able to dregde the river. Pero (But) within 100 days, that’s about three and a half months, we would be able to partially remove the sandbars,” he said.
“Anong ibig sabihin nito? Kung lalabas nanaman ang mga malalakas na ulan by July, para makita na natin ang resulta nito. Makita rin natin mabawasan na rin itong flooding dahil nakabawas na tayo sa sandbars at nakabawas na tayo sa lupa (What does this mean? By July when strong rains hit us again, we will have seen the results of this. We will see less flooding since we’ve reduced the number of sandbars as well as earth),” explained the former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief.
The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) earlier identified a total of 19 sandbars, but immediate dredging was recommended for the three sandbars that were significantly hindering the flow of flood water to the Aparri Delta draining to the Babuyan Channel.
In the same speech, Cimatu noted how typhoon “Ulysses” caused millions worth of damages to property in the region last year. So huge was the damage that President Duterte came over to see it for himself.
“All of government is taking this matter seriously. As you can see, the equipment and assets of our government are now ready to start the mission. The dredging equipment of the DPWH and AFP are already placed in our priority areas,” he said.
Referring to the dredging, Cimatu said: “Ito ay ang simula sa ating plano upang mabawasan ang mapaminsalang baha sa Cagayan Valley (This is the start of our plan to lessen the occurrence of destructive floods in Cagayan Valley).”
The dredging is part of the broader restoration effort on Cagayan River.