By Freddie G. Lazaro, PIA, Ilocos Norte
BAGUIO CITY – To establish a sustainable management of the environment and water resources of Abra River, various stakeholders inked a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) creating the Abra River Basin Management Council.
In a simple rite at the Eurotel Hotel here on August 19, 35 regional heads of national government agencies in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and Ilocos region, presidents of four state colleges and university and governors and representatives from the provinces of Ilocos Sur, Abra, Benguet and Mountain Province, have signified their cooperation for the management and protection to the resources of the Abra River.
Prior to the creation of the council, an Integrated Abra River Basin Management and Development Master Plan was formulated after the conduct of series of consultations in 2014 to 2015.
Ralph C. Pablo, regional director of DENR-CAR, said the master plan was created to harmonize the activities of the concerned local government units and government agencies irrespective of their mandates as well as the efforts of civil society groups for the preservation of the Abra River.
This year, with the Abra River Basin Management Council (ARBMC), it will now function as the coordinating, advisory, policy planning and management body for the Abra River Basin.
“This council was created to ensure that the different programs and projects identified in the plan are implemented by the different implementing agencies and sectors,” Pablo said.
To systematize the implementation of the projects initially identified in the master plan, the four thematic areas were also created such as watershed management and development; water resource management and development; marine and freshwater management; and disaster risk reduction-climate change adaptation development.
Pablo, the lead convenor to the formulation of the master plan and the creation of the ARBMC, disclosed that at least P19 million is necessary for the operation of the council in the next 15 years.
He said the council’s executive committee is responsible in the resource mobilization.
The Abra River Basin, which is one of the country’s 18 major river basins identified by the DENR, is the sixth largest basin in the Philippines. The main river has a length of about 198 kilometers.
In CAR, the provinces of Abra, Mountain Province, and Benguet are within the Abra River Basin. All the 27 municipalities of Abra are located within the basin. Benguet and Mountain Provinces have three municipalities within the basin.
In Ilocos Region, particularly the province of Ilocos Sur, 14 out of its 34 towns are within the basin.#