Press Release
June 24, 2011


Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III today asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to give a "status report" of the country's major river basins.

Sotto said this should be made part of a nationwide disaster risk reduction and management mechanism in the light of the series of typhoons hitting the country the past few weeks.

The Majority Leader wanted a disclosure from DENR as to whether there remain other bodies of water or river system engulfed by water lilies or water hyacinths as in the case of Rio Grande de Mindanao which caused massive flooding Cotabato City.

"Rather than point a finger on government officials concerned on matters like this, whenever there's calamity due to strong typhoons, why don't we take preventive action instead?" he asked.

The incident in Cotabato should be an eye-opener for both the DENR and the public on the value of rivers or streams not only for the conservation of the natural resources or for purposes of navigation or fishing.

A recent report showed that out of the 19 major river basins in the country, 10 remain polluted due to high levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)-the standard measurement of pollution in the water.

"Probably, Malacanang can replicate what the government did during the Roxas administration, creating a committee that investigated the use of rivers, obstruction and pollution of streams, closing or partial obstruction of many streams and their conversion into fishponds," he said.

"Are we just going to just wait and see if there's another calamity similar to what happened in Cotabato to take place in Metro Manila or other provinces? There's a lesson learned in this incident and from this, preventive measures should be carried out before another batch of families are displaced, destroyed crops and damaged properties. We've seen the worst when killer typhoon Ondoy ravage the metropolis. We don't want a repeat of that traumatic experience," he said.

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