122020 1

by Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol

Chairman, Mindanao Development Authority

As floodwaters rampaged through the agricultural areas in the Agusan and Davao Plains for two days now, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) has renewed the call for the creation of the Mindanao River Basins Development Authority (MRBDA) to come up with a comprehensive approach to the recurring flooding in the region.

The proposal for the MRBDA, first presented 10 years ago, was again discussed in the recent Mindanao River Basin Development Council Meeting held last month.

Following the meeting, North Cotabato First District Congressman Joel Sacdalan filed a measure in Congress calling for the immediate creation of the agency following the massive floods in Luzon.

The urgency of the measure is once again highlighted by the floods which hit the Agusan and Davao River Basins this week.

While Mindanao has eight river basins, only the Agusan and Central Mindanao River Basins have been in the limelight as these are the areas where massive floods occur almost every year.

There are only two active River Basins Management Council - Agusan and Cotabato - both headed by religious leaders with local executives and national agencies as members.

Both function independently of each other.

The creation of the MRBDA is aimed at integrating all efforts to address the flooding, including a review of the government's policies on forestry and mining.

Mindanao's six other river basins are the Agus River Basin, Cagayan de Oro River Basin, Tagoloan River Basin, Tagum-Libuganon river basin, Davao river basin and Buayan-Malungon river basin.

The Mindanao River Basin (Cotabato) and Agusan River Basin in the Caraga region are among the two largest river basins in the island region.

While Mindanao is endowed with rich ecosystems with fertile river basins, its watersheds are threatened by extractive industries such as logging and mining.

The Mindanao 2020 report said that watershed degradation if not addressed, is feared tol give rise to food security threats and hamper economic development.

"Mindanao’s total forest cover has also been rapidly denuded from 70 percent in the 1900s to 23 percent in 1988 and down to six percent," the 10-year-old report said.

The creation of the MRBDA is an urgent measure which needs to be enacted immediately to start a comprehensive effort to address environmental degradation in Mindanao which causes the destructive flooding.

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