Elpidio Barzaga Jr

Protection of Sierra Madre pushed

September 27, 2022 Ryan Ponce Pacpaco 196 views

THE chairman of the House committee on natural resources on Tuesday filed House Resolution (HR) No. 430 seeking a congressional probe into the degradation of the Sierra Madre mountain range to look for ways to protect it.

Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. said there is a need to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation on the alleged degradation of Sierra Madre Mountains “and how we shall protect our “Mother Mountain Range” to prevent the occurrence of floods in various places in the Philippines.”

“There is an urgent need to determine whether human activity such as illegal logging, gold mining, limestone mining, construction aggregate quarrying, deforestation and dam construction are being conducted at the Sierra Madre Mountains,” Barzaga said in the resolution.

If such acts are being conducted, the administration lawmaker said “there is a need to confirm if there were corresponding permits issued by the concerned government agencies.”

“If indeed permits were issued, were there environmental impact assessments regarding their effect to the Sierra Madre Mountains?” asked the lawmaker, a member of the National Unity Party (NUP).

The resolution cited Article 2, Section 16 of the Constitution which provides that the state shall “protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature”.

The Sierra Madre Mountains, called he “backbone of Luzon,” is the longest mountain range in the Philippines which has a total land area of 2.8 million hectares that spans Cagayan province in the north to Quezon province in the south and encompassing the 10 provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna and Quezon.

The resolution said the “Mother Mountain Range” plays an important role :by acting as a natural shield against typhoons and floods coming from the Pacific Ocean. Its watershed supports the water system of Central Luzon, Cagayan Valley and Metro Manila.”

“It is home to flora and fauna including the Philippine eagle and the golden-crowned flying fox. It is also home to 15 different indigenous peoples holding Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles or ancestral domain claims groups,” it said.

The resolution also cited the Sierra Madre Mountains’ role as the country’s protector from the recent typhoon “Karding,” the typhoon “Ompong” in 2018, and typhoons “Lawin” and typhoon “Karen.”

“Unfortunately, it has not fully protected the town of San Miguel, Bulacan from the typhoon ‘Karding’ which has experienced its worst flooding that killed five provincial anti-disaster rescuers,” Barzaga said.