Tugade: Reforestation, dredging of Cagayan River a must to resolve flooding woes; Coast Guard maintains search, rescue and relief operations in Ulysses-hit areas

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CAGAYAN, Nov. 15 -– Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur P. Tugade has commited to help concerned government agencies address flooding woes in the Cagayan Region, as he reports on the round-the-clock response efforts and actions of the DOTr, through the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), amid the widespread flooding in Cagayan and Isabela due to Typhoon Ulysses (Vamco) that recently battered Luzon.

Secretary Tugade joined President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and other Cabinet members in a situation briefing to discuss the aftermath of Ulysses in the Cagayan Valley Region in their visit to Tuguegarao City in Cagayan today, 15 November 2020.

Secretary Tugade, who hails from Claveria, Cagayan, was tasked to divert the agency’s resources, as necessary, to aid relief operations and other efforts that will sustain much-needed assistance to the affected residents.

In his report, Secretary Tugade pointed out the continuous dredging of the Cagayan River and the reforestation efforts in the area as being integral in preventing deadly floods.

“Sa pagpupulong-pulong po, nakita ko nakakalbo ang kagubatan at talaga ‘hong nag-overflow ‘yung sa Buntun Bridge, ‘yung sa Cagayan River. Mapapakita ‘ho dito ‘yung dalawang pangangailangan: Number 1 ‘ho, ‘yung pagtigil ng pagputol ng puno dito o ‘yung reforestation program ‘ho kailangang ituloy ‘yun. Pangalawa, dredging sa Cagayan River. Kung ‘di magagawa ang mga ito, paulit-ulit pong mangyayari ‘yung pagbaha dito,” Secretary Tugade stressed.

In connection with this, the transportation chief committed to help in the reforestation of various flood-prone areas in the country by making it mandatory for public transport cooperatives and individuals to commit a specific number of trees to be planted before acquiring a franchise or license. Secretary Tugade said that the mandatory scheme was suggested by an LTFRB regional director during their meeting.

“Nirekomenda ng isang RD (regional director) ko sa LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) ‘Sir, bakit hindi natin gawing proseso na ‘pag merong kumuha ng prangkisa ‘yung kooperatiba, or lisensya ‘yung mga indibidwal, part of their responsibility is to plant trees?’ Kung may kooperatiba ka diyan, ili-limit mo minimum mo diyan: 500 trees kada prangkisa na ibibigay ko sa’yo. Kung gagawin ‘ho namin ‘yan, ‘yung pagtatanim ng puno doon sa pag-issue ng prangkisa o mga lisensya, marami ‘ho tayong matatamnan.”

Secretary Tugade added that the DOTr will be closely coordinating with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the local government units to identify areas where reforestation is needed and that this initiative will be implemented nationwide.

During the briefing with the President, Secretary Tugade also reported on the continuous rescue and relief operations conducted by its attached agency, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), headed by its Commandant, Admiral George Ursabia Jr., before, during, and even after the devastation of Ulysses.

“Nangunguna sa operasyon ng Kagawaran ng Transportasyon sa Cagayan region ay ang Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), kung saan talagang walang tulog, sige-sige lang trabaho. Kasama na ‘ho diyan, nagpadala si PCG Commandant [George] Ursabia ng mga floaters, like boat and trucks. Ginamit na rin ‘ho namin ‘yung mga chopper at eropleno ng Philippine Coast Guard para makatulong sa rescue, retrieval and relief operations,” Seretary Tugade shared.

Within this week, the transportation chief said that the DOTr will also participate in giving relief goods, including food and water, to the locals.

Additionally, in cooperation with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), the DOTr will be donating one hundred (100) fiber glass boats to coastal communities. Secretary Tugade said that these boats will not only help fisherfolks in their livelihood, but will also serve as rescue equipment when needed.

Meanwhile, no damages to the airports, seaports, and other DOTr agencies’ facilities were reported in Northern Luzon. (DOTr)

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