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Solon refiles bill creating Sierra Madre Development Authority

July 18, 2022 Jester P. Manalastas 266 views

RIZAL Representative Fidel Nograles refiled a measure seeking for the creation of Sierra Madre Development Authority.

Nograles said he is now confident that Congress will pass the measure this time, especially that the new administration has vowed to tackle the issue of climate change.

The main goal of the said body is to conserve and manage the 500-kilometer-long Sierra Madre Mountain Range to help protect its forest cover and prevent flooding in areas in Luzon.

โ€œI hope that with Pres. Bongbong Marcos vowing to prioritize climate change, the House leadership will follow and place this issue at the top of our legislative agenda. The effects of climate change sweep far and wide and affect all sectors of society and governance, so we cannot simply turn a blind eye,โ€ Nograles said.

House Bill No. 1972, which is among the lawmakerโ€™s priority bills for this Congress, seeks to establish the Sierra Madre Development Authority. The measure was also filed during the 18th Congress.

Nograles emphasized the need to protect the Sierra Madre region, which includes the majority of the countryโ€™s sixty-eight Protected Areas, consisting of national parks, watershed forest reserves, natural monuments, marine reserves, and protected landscapes and seascapes.

Under the bill, the SMDA would be tasked to: conduct a comprehensive survey of the Sierra Madre region’s physical and natural resources and draft a comprehensive plan to conserve and utilize them to promote the regionโ€™s social and economic development; provide the machinery for extending the necessary planning, management, and technical assistance to prospective and existing investors in the region; provide recommendations to the proper agencies regarding the financing and technical support to be given to agricultural, industrial, and commercial projects; assess and approve all plans, programs, and projects proposed by local government offices/agencies within the region related to the development of the mountain range; plan, program, finance and undertake infrastructure projects such as river, flood, and tidal control work, wastewater and sewerage work, dams and water supply, roads, irrigation, housing, and related work; undertake studies on the conservation, improvement, exploration, development, and maintenance of the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.

According to the solon, the SMDA would also spearhead the governmentโ€™s campaigns to stop illegal logging and promote reforestation, prevent construction of unwarranted and illegal infrastructure, enhance and develop indigenous resources in the areas that can be utilized for development, and educate people on the importance of the mountain range.

โ€œThe onset of the rainy season should serve as a stark warning for us in Congress that climate change is not an issue that will go away. We need to confront it head-on and seek to craft legislation that would comprehensively address the myriad issues surrounding it,โ€ he added.