Iloilo City – The Mines and Geosciences Bureau Regional Office 6 (MGB-6) tackles the series of government policies governing dredging activities within rivers, river deltas and other inland bodies of water over the DENR-6 program “Ikaw Kag Ang Imo Palibot” aired on May 19, 2021 over DYLL Radyo Pilipinas.
MGB-6 OIC-ORD Raul A. Laput explains that the purpose of dredging activities is to clear, desilt and de-clog heavily-silted rivers, waterways and inland bodies which addresses flooding and prevent disasters. Dredging activities also redirect and re-channel the flow of water and stabilize embankment and protect existing structures such as bridges and dikes.
OIC-ORD Laput cited major policy issuances governing dredging projects and activities starting with Department Order No. 139, Series of 2014 issued by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) “to set guidelines on all river dredging activities for flood-control projects and quarrying purposes.”
In 2019, the DPWH, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) issued Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 2019-01 entitled “Guidelines on the Issuance of Clearance and/or Permit for Dredging Within Waterways or Other Inland Bodies of Water.” This serves as the basis of the subsequent administrative orders on dredging activities, OIC-ORD Laput explains.
Pursuant to the joint circular (DPWH-DENR-DILG-DOTr JMC 2019-01), DENR further issued in the same year policies covering dredging projects in specific provinces such as Mindoro and Zambales. For projects covering the province of Negros Occidental, DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu issued DAO 2020-01.
The DENR further issued DAO 2020-07 and is the most recent policy governing large-scale dredging activities towards river restoration, and this applies to the rest of the country.
Under DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2020-07, private contractors will undertake the dredging projects on behalf of the local government unit which may lack the financial and technical capability. “The private contractor will have to shoulder all the expenses of the dredging operation in exchange for the dredged materials and whatever minerals it may recover, provided it pays the required national and local taxes,” cited OIC-RD Laput.
Moreover, the private contractor must secure an operations permit dredging clearance or permit after complying with all the requirements which include a dredging clearance permit from the DPWH, among others. The DAO requires that only duly registered companies with technical and financial capabilities to undertake large-scale flood control dredging and desilting operations may apply for a dredging clearance with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH).
Local government units which opt to engage private contractors in undertaking river restoration through dredging activities within their jurisdiction need to submit a letter of intent to the Office of the DENR Secretary.
DAO 2020-07 further orders the creation of an Inter-Agency Committee composed of the governor as chair, DENR regional executive director as vice-chair, and regional directors of DPWH and the Mines and Geosciences Bureau and Environmental Management Bureau as members. One of the tasks of the Inter-Agency Committee is to define the River Dredging Zone (RDZ) based on the Dredging Master Plan prepared by the DPWH.
OIC-RD Laput says that dredging can clear and restore the waterways to its original depth and condition, thus, prevents flooding. This will be possible at no cost to the government while receiving taxes and fees due for the use and commercial disposition of the dredged materials including the minerals that may be present.
MGB-6 is conducting a series of information dissemination on policies governing river restoration through dredging activities. “We will make further announcements on the schedules of IEC on this topic,” OIC-RD Laput said. (L. Artajo, MGB-6.)