Stalled tourism road inside Sibugay town watershed okayed to continue but…

The road tourism project inside the Dona Josefa Watershed and Protected Area in the municipality of Ipil got the nod to proceed under some conditions from the Regional Project Monitoring Committee (RPMC) of the Regional Development Council (RDC 9) during the 2nd Problem-Solving Session and Facilitation Meeting held on July 3 in Ipil, Zamboanga Sibugay.

The RPMC, chaired by Regional Director Phlorita Ridao of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA 9), took note of the urgency to allow the resumption of the Phase 3 of the tourism road as it posed environmental hazards with the onset of the rainy season.

Earlier, Architect Joven de los Reyes, who was hired to develop the proposed rehabilitation plan, presented the Masterplan for Dona Josefa Falls.

The plan was assailed by the representatives of Dona Josefa Watch, an ad hoc body composed of non-government and civil organizations, as a tourism plan and not a rehabilitation plan.

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Part of the proposal was the construction of drainage and slope protection to mitigate the danger of soil erosion, and landslides due to massive cutting of mountain soil along the constructed road, inside the watershed, leading to the Busay Falls.

Approve or reject

After some deliberations, Alfredo Jamora, Private Sector Representative of Zamboanga Sibugay to RDC 9, urged the RPMC members to take a vote on the plan presented by the environmental architect either to “approve as a whole or reject it.”

He stressed the need for the body to make a decision on the proposal so that the DPWH as the implementing agency will be guided the soonest time possible.

It was decided by RPMC, however, to prioritize which component of the plan must be approved for the tourism road to resume.

The regional office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR 9) had issued an order to stop the construction of the tourism road last February after it was found lacking of the required Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

Mayor Anamel Olegario, who was present during the meeting, informed the body that she ordered the “stoppage of the project” on December 28 last year after she discovered the damage in the area. The mayor is the current RDC 9 chair.

On the record, however, the Sangguniang Bayan passed a resolution on February 8 which ordered the road construction to stop.

Some members of the monitoring committee had noted that the plan has two components: mitigation and tourism development.

The representative of the regional office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB 9) informed the body that plan how to mitigate the environmental damage and to develop the site as tourist destination each requires Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC).

Tourim road construction to resume but…

The RPMC, at the end, had decided to allow the contractor, Mindanao Rock with MJ Marie Construction as its local conduit, to proceed with the road construction of the 140-meter road length and not the whole of 739 meters road leading to Busay Falls.

It also approved the construction of the slope protection and line canals to mitigate the risk of landslides and soil erosion provided that the DPWH engineers will use bio-engineering design as suggested by Dona Josefa Watch.

The RPMC decision will be forwarded to RDC 9 for approval.   

The committee is the project monitoring arm of RDC 9. Created by virtue of Executive Order No. 376, it is responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of priority programs and projects.

Its mandate include conducting problem solving session on projects implemented in the region that are encountering problems while looking also to those projects that are considered for replication.

The RPMC is composed of the Regional Director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) as chairperson; Regional Director of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), co-chairperson; Regional Director of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG); Regional Team Leader of the Presidential Management Staff; Private Sector Representative from the RDC; and two representatives of the non-government organization. (Mindanao Sun)

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