The time has come for the Marikina River to be dredged and widened with the aim of tempering devastating floods in the metropolis during strong rains.
This was announced by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Sunday morning, Feb. 14, adding that dredging activities would begin as early as Wednesday, Feb. 17.
DENR Secretary and Build Back Better (BBB) Chairman Roy Cimatu has cited reports that portions of the river have been illegally reclaimed, reducing drastically the ability of the waterway to contain excess rainwater during typhoons.
Cimatu also said that a number of structures have been found occupying easement areas, in violation of Presidential Decree (PD) 1067 or Philippine Water Code.
“Using official land records dating back as far as 1914 and 1961, historical maps, and satellite photos from the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority as basis, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-National Capital Region conducted aerial and ground verification surveys that confirm encroachments made not only in the river itself but in the designated legal easements as well,” noted the former Armed Forces chief.
The pilot dredging will be in the portion of the river near Marcos Highway in Barangay Kalumpang while a simultaneous bamboo planting activity will take place on the banks of Barangay Industrial Valley Complex, both in Marikina City.
“The widening of Marikina River to its original width is but the start of the series of activities the Task Force has identified to address the perennial problem of flooding within the Marikina River Basin,” Cimatu added.
The DENR chief also said that the restored riverbanks will be planted with bamboo to help prevent riverbank erosion and siltation–one of the strategies that TF BBB has adopted in the rehabilitation of Cagayan River.
Based on existing land records, 25 lot parcels with a total area of 271,625 square meters (27 hectares) were reclaimed without necessary permits, either partially or completely encroaching into the Marikina River.
Article 51 of PD 1067 explicitly prohibits the construction of any permanent structure along three meters of the banks of rivers and streams and shores of seas and lakes in urban areas like Metro Manila, as these areas are reserved “for public use”.